Operation Swordphish to target cyber-criminals for prosecution

UAB launches statewide initiative to investigate, prosecute cyber-criminals accustomed to flying below the radar.

A University of Alabama at Birmingham initiative provides Alabamians a fast, simple way to report cyber-crimes at www.Operation-Swordphish.com that should put criminals on notice.

UAB_Swordphish_story“Too often, victims with comparatively small financial losses cannot look to the FBI or other federal agencies for help, and local police typically do not have the training or resources to pursue these cases,” said John Sloan, Ph.D., chair of UAB Department of Justice Sciences and principal investigator on the project funded by U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Swordphish, a partnership between UAB, the Alabama Department of Public Safety and the Alabama District Attorney’s Association, will enable cyber-crime victims to report their experiences to trained investigators with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and enable officials to create a database and trend patterns that will lead to successful prosecution, Sloan said.

“Cyber-crimes are difficult to investigate and difficult to prosecute,” said Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who noted the state was able to prosecute less than 1 percent of 6,000 reported cyber-crimes in 2009. “Operation Swordphish will drastically improve the odds of bringing cyber-criminals to justice and protect people’s personal finances,” he said.

“For most of us, our daily lives hinge on the use of some type of digital device — from a cellphone to our computers,” said Randy Hillman, executive director, Alabama Office of Prosecution Services. “Criminals are becoming increasingly savvy in their methods, and it’s imperative that we remain vigilant. We encourage the public to use Swordphish to report phishing and other Internet scams.”

The UAB departments of Justice Sciences and Computer and Information Sciences, working within the UAB Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research, will provide leads to state law enforcement and technical support to investigators.

“As cyber-security becomes an increasing concern for all Americans, I am pleased that UAB has been selected as the Model State Partnership for Cybercrime and Security,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, a ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. “UAB’s contribution to this initiative will assist greatly in the fight against cyber-crimes in Alabama and the rest of the country.”