UA Cyber Researchers Delve Into the Dark Web

  • April 24th, 2018

The Office of Information Technology works to block dark web traffic from entering UA, but for five students in Cyber Hall, the dark web serves as a place of employment.

The Network Intrusion Lab, located in Cyber Hall, houses faculty and student researchers building mechanisms to monitor and analyze dark web network traffic. According to UA OIT, the dark web is a part of the internet that is only accessible by means of special software that allows users to remain anonymous to conduct mostly malicious activity.

The NIL consists of Dr. Diana Dolliver and Dr. Adam Ghazi-Tehrani, both of whom are assistant professors in cyber criminology and criminal justice, as well as five UA student interns:

  • Austin Rife, a junior studying computer engineering and mathematics from Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Jake Wachs, a sophomore studying computer science from Annapolis, Maryland
  • Austin Hose, a junior in New College studying cybersecurity from Meridianville, Alabama
  • Spencer Fuhriman, a sophomore studying computer science from Meridian, Idaho
  • Alex Dunbrack, a senior studying management information systems from Orlando, Florida

The First of its Kind

The NIL opened in January 2017 and is a joint project through the continued partnership between UAPD and the College of Arts and Sciences. The Office of Information Technology provides the NIL a secure research environment where students can work with faculty to build network analysis tools.

Dr. Diana Dolliver works with Austin Rife in the NIL.

“In the NIL,” said Wachs, “we get to see the real-world implications of what technology can do.”

The NIL strives to increase awareness and knowledge about cyber activity, particularly with law enforcement. The NIL is a function of the Joint Electronic Crimes Task Force. Established in August 2014, the JECTF assists local and national law enforcement officials with processing digital evidence for use in cybercrime prosecutions.

“People become victims of cyberattacks just because they don’t know any better,” said Hose. “That’s what scares me, the lack of knowledge about cyber activity.”

The students in the NIL work not only to monitor network activity, but also to provide necessary information to local and federal law enforcement to prevent malicious activity and to help solve criminal cases.

“We take this data, and we determine how much of a negative impact it can have to society, and we share it with the proper audiences and law enforcement,” said Fuhriman.

The students working in the NIL bring a variety of experience and diverse majors of study to the group.

“I really enjoy working with the other students in the NIL,” said Dunbrack. “We’re all pursuing different majors of study, and when I hear their perspectives it really broadens my personal understanding of what cybercrime is becoming in this world. We’re all bringing different skills to the table.”

The research being conducted at the NIL is the first of its kind. Fewer than 10 academic institutions across the United States have a digital forensics task force, and the UA NIL, as a part of such task force, is the first of its kind.

“No one has done the research that we’re doing. We hope that our research opens up a new discussion in the cyber field of study.”   Dr. Adam Ghazi-Tehrani, assistant professor in cyber criminology and criminal justice at UA

Network Intrusion Lab Internships

Students in the Network Intrusion Lab

NIL internships are available to students in all majors of study.

“Through the NIL, we offer students a different way of thinking about problems,” said Dolliver. “There’s a difference between learning something in a classroom and actually applying the knowledge. These students are getting real experience.”

Undergraduate and graduate students can now apply for internships at the NIL at cybercrime.as.ua.edu.

“Students thinking about studying cybersecurity should have an interest in computer programming, and a passion for computing with a willingness to learn,” said Rife. “It’s so cool to learn how something works, and then reverse it to prevent somebody from getting in. You always have to think ahead. If there is something out there that you’re interested in, go after it. Ask a faculty member about it and start learning.”

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.

Submit Your Abstract for URCA Now! Deadline February 28th!

  • February 6th, 2018

The Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Conference is a premier annual event at The University of Alabama that provides undergraduates an opportunity to highlight their research or creative activity.

In addition to bringing attention to the excellent work of University students, the Conference allows students to gain experience presenting, compete for cash prizes and form relationships with their faculty mentors and fellow Conference presenters.

To submit your abstract, click here. For more information, click here.

 

Research Experiences for Undergraduates with University of North Flordia

  • February 1st, 2018

Beginning in 2013, the University of North Florida became one of the newest host sites for the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program.  The UNF REU Program offers paid research training experiences in Coastal Biology to 10 undergraduate students during a 10-week period from late May-late July.  REU participants are paired with Coastal Biologists at UNF and the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR) and conduct mentored research projects related to their advisor’s expertise.  Prior to this, students will complete a 1-week orientation on performing research in Coastal Biology to prepare them for their directed research projects.  Students will also gain experience in science communication by presenting the results of their project at a departmental-wide research poster mini-symposium.  Participants will attend research seminars and workshops on career skills in science.  Students may also have the opportunity to present their research findings at professional conferences.

To be eligible for participation in the 2018 UNF REU program, students must be:

  • U.S. Citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or its possessions
  • Enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a baccalaureate degree.
  • Available for the full duration of the program, from May 21st to July 27th (some exceptions possible)

Freshman- and Sophomore-level science students and students from minority groups underrepresented in science (African Americans, Latinos and Hispanics, Native Americans, Native Pacific Islanders, and Alaskan Natives) are especially encouraged to apply!

Students participating in the REU program will receive:

  • Stipend of $5,000 over the 10-week period
  • Free housing in a UNF dormitory and meals
  • Support for transportation between UNF and their home institution

Students interested in applying to the 2018 UNF REU program can acquire information on the application procedure from the program website.  The deadline for applications is March 20, 2018.

See: http://www.unf.edu/coas/biology/coastal_biology/REU-Apply.aspx

Undergraduate Research Resource Center: We’ve Moved!

  • January 17th, 2018

The Undergraduate Research Resource Center is open to provide  in-person assistance regarding the Emerging Scholars Program and to ask questions about the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Please visit us at the Undergraduate Research Resource Center located in room 124 of Burke West. We hope to see you soon! Hours include:

  • Monday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
  • Thursday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.