Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Teesside Digital Forensics Conference

As readers of this blog will know, I spend a lot of my time at Universities talking to forensics students.  I have spoken at Teesside University for the last four years and for the last two years, my company has awarded a cash prize for the best presentation at the annual Teesside Digital Forensics Conference.  This year, the quality of presentations was exceptionally high but the prize for best presentation was won by Louise Purvis who has kindly written a summary of the event and her presentation below:

 "The Teesside Digital Forensics Conference (TDFCon) is an event organised and run by final year Digital Forensics and Forensic Computing students at Teesside University.  The students are responsible for the full organisation of the event, from arranging catering and inviting guests, to creating contingency plans for the day of the event!  In addition to the organisation, students are also required to prepare and present papers, which must last approx. 45 minutes. 

As secretary of the conference, I was very involved with the organisation stages, so when the event received such good feedback from the guests and our course leader it was very pleasing to see many months of hard work and organisation go to plan, especially as it was the last assessment of our final year, and therefore marked the end of our time here at Teesside University.   

We were also incredibly grateful to the guests, who ranged from representatives from HMRC, Trading Standards, Northumbria Police and Teesside Uni. staff and Graduates, who took the time to attend and offer advice and support to the students.  We are obviously also very grateful to David Sullivan for providing the prize for the best presentation.

My presentation was based on my final year project “Online Vulnerability: Identifying Characteristics for Victim Profiling”.  It aimed to identify what it is about a victim that makes them an attractive target to criminals, and what vulnerable areas are preyed upon.  I chose this area after speaking to Arron Martin Zeus Brown, my course leader, as I wanted a project that mattered, and could in the future, potentially make a difference.  There is a noticeable gap in literature in this area, in that much research addresses cybercriminal profiling, but very little is currently available about the victims of cybercrimes.  

After conducting a thorough literature review, the 17 characteristics identified which contributed to vulnerability levels were grouped into four specific categories, namely: Biological, such as gender and age; Psychological, such as human emotions and desires, trust, and impulse; Situational, such as environment, exposure to risk and time spent online, and finally Social, such as lifestyle, education, experience and employment.  All of the aforementioned areas were believed to hold some influence over levels of vulnerability online, as they all contribute to victimization.

My presentation aimed to raise awareness of these areas, as many of them such as trust, are carried out at a subconscious level by an internet user on a daily basis, without fully considering the implications and the risks.  Educating users as to what it is that makes them attractive targets online, as opposed to what the risks are and instructing them what (not) to do online, could be a useful aide against preventing cybercrime.  Those who are aware of such vulnerable behaviours may alter their online activity/behaviour in such a way that they could minimise the risk of being targeted and subsequently becoming a victim.

Winning ‘best presentation’ of the conference came as a complete shock and was totally unexpected, as there were so many good presentations over the two days.  I was just pleased the guests and other students found my presentation interesting, and hopefully took on board the message I was trying to purvey"

Contact Louise

I should add that Louise is actively seeking employment in the field.  For more details about Louise take a look at her Linkedin Profile: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/louise-purvis/20/536/7a or email Louise directly at: louisejpurvis@gmail.com.  

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