New cyber-crime lab to open at UA - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

New cyber-crime lab to open at UA

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Assisting in cyber-crime cases will be the main goal of a new crime lab being created in Tuscaloosa.

University of Alabama professors are partnering with local law enforcement agencies to create a new cyber-crime lab. The lab will assist with cyber-crime cases like computer hacking and child pornography.

Modern day crimes are more complex than they once were which is why Dr. Kate Seigfried-Spellar said a crime lab specifically for cyber-criminals is necessary. The assistant professor said, “Every type of crime is going to have some type of digital evidence involved. This way if we have everybody housed at the same place we can analyze laptops, different types of computers, hardware. We can look at different types of cell phones, tablets. We can look at GPS devices.”

Beyond simply electronic data that boldly links someone to a crime; the lab will be able to make connections between suspects. “So if a suspect claims I don't know that individual, I don't know that drug deal. Well that's funny because we pulled data from your cell phone that shows you've been texting this person or you've called this person. And so that's the type of evidence that they're going to be able to use,” Seigfried-Spellar added.

The new lab will be filled with as many computers and software as the $60,000 grant the cyber-crime lab was awarded can buy.

The task force will spend the summer nailing down a location for their lab on campus. Their goal is to have everything set up and ready to go by September.

Beyond use by professors and law enforcement agencies, students will be able to intern at the lab for real world experience and they will help address what Seigfried-Spellar calls an obstacle. She said. “There's a real big problem right now with back log of cases and there is also a problem with smaller departments not having access to this technology because it is real expensive.”

With the idea that the cyber-crime lab will be a place to help many agencies within the community, the assistant professor is hoping to address a specific field that hasn't been broadly explored.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is funding the grant. The goal is to establish independent funding to keep the lab open once the grant runs out.

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