x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Zayed University to host cyber-crime conference

The UAE has been investing in new labs and equipment for digital forensics.

Left to right, Maj Omar al Tunaiji, the head of Abu Dhabi Police’s cyber-crime branch; Sulaiman al Jassim, the vice president of Zayed University; and  Ibrahim Bagilli, the director of the university’s cyber-crime lab, announce the conference yesterday. Pawan Singh / The National
Left to right, Maj Omar al Tunaiji, the head of Abu Dhabi Police’s cyber-crime branch; Sulaiman al Jassim, the vice president of Zayed University; and Ibrahim Bagilli, the director of the university’s cyber-crime lab, announce the conference yesterday. Pawan Singh / The National

ABU DHABI // The UAE has been investing in new labs and equipment for digital forensics, and next week will showcase the advances it is making in developing online crime-solving tools. The College of Information Technology at Zayed University is hosting the second International ICST Conference on Digital Forensics and Cyber Crime, which will include workshops for researchers and law enforcement professionals from countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Hungary, Canada and Norway.

Court cases involving digital evidence are becoming more and more common, said Ibrahim Bagilli, director of the university's lab and chairman of the conference. Still, the region "has a very long way to go to reach international standards, and this conference is a step in that direction," he said. "This is such a hot and important topic that is extremely relevant around the world, not just in the Middle East," he said. "Almost any crime has some sort of digital evidence related to it, no matter where you are, whether someone has used Google to find out about a gun or a phone is able to place someone at a crime scene."

The conference will focus on the challenges of encryption, locating specific pieces of evidence on online networks, and extracting clues from small-scale digital devices such as an iPhone. Mobiles can be crucial tools in solving many crimes because prosecutors can triangulate their positions, he explained, and the UAE is just beginning to submit such data as evidence in court. Dr Bagilli was a speaker at the inaugural ICST conference, which was held last year at the State University of New York in Albany, New York.

This year's conference is sponsored by the Ministry of Interior; the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering, which is based in Belgium; and Ernst & Young. The two-day event kicks off on October 4 at Le Meridien hotel in Abu Dhabi and is expected to draw about 60 professionals from the private and public sectors. Speakers will include Paul Kurtz, a former cyber-security special adviser for the US government.

Zayed University and Abu Dhabi's police headquarters opened new laboratories this year dedicated to research and the storing of evidence. "We appreciate the role Zayed University has played in organizing this international conference and its constant efforts in participating, hosting and organizing such specialised and international conferences in the UAE," Maj Omar al Tunaiji, head of the cyber-crime branch for Abu Dhabi Police, said at a press conference.

Fifteen police officers completed master of science degrees at Zayed University this year as part of the department's efforts to develop its cyber law, terrorism and forensics divisions. The force's police lab and mobile examination stations are among the first in the region. Digital forensics "has become an important factor in the area of network security, information security and law enforcement, as well as recovery from disasters, and issues of fraud, internal security and information warfare," said Dr Sulaiman al Jassim, vice president of Zayed University.

The choice by ICST to hold the conference in Abu Dhabi "says a lot about the moves we're making toward a better, safer future in terms of security," Dr Bagilli said. 

econroy@thenational.ae