New center to combat crime, secure online information

UAB creates center for interdisciplinary research and development in computer, accounting and life sciences.

Every day the news reports data breaches, compromised private records and hack attacks that threaten individuals, commerce and national security.

virus_screen_webThe University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research (CIAJFR) now is in a unique position to combat these crimes through its interdisciplinary research and development in computer, accounting and life sciences.

“In our interconnected world, the security and integrity of commerce are paramount. That includes the privacy of personal data,” says Anthony Skjellum, Ph.D., chair of UAB Computer and Information Sciences and founding director of the center that allies researchers at UAB and its industry partners with law-enforcement agencies. “Our members will work together to help create, prototype, test, implement and refine tools to strengthen all defenses against any potential attacks.”

Founding organizations at UAB are its College of Arts and Sciences, schools of Business and Health Professions, plus UAB Information Technology and UAB Health System Information Services. Partners include Alabama Department of Forensic Science, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Treasury.

“Criminals work across interdisciplinary lines. And that’s how our research, development and outreach works in the center,” says John Sloan, chair of Justice Sciences and center co-founder. “There’s no other way to keep up and help law enforcement catch criminals.”

The new center will offer research and solutions in many areas including spam data-mining, phishing, computer security, computer intrusion and identity theft. Information assurance, a top-priority for the Obama Administration, includes the area of critical infrastructure protection (CIP). The CIP focus includes health care, power distribution, agriculture, military-industrial industries, financial industries and more.

The center also will provide training and continuing professional development for IT specialists, attorneys, accountants, forensic scientists and law-enforcement officials.

“The center provides a point of integration that allows experts to add value to each other’s research and lends recognition to an emerging area in which we are confident UAB can achieve international leadership,” said Richard Marchase, UAB vice president for Research and Economic Development.