Lancaster University

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InfoLab21 Helps Fight Cyber-Crime

09/28/2009 12:56:00


A new technology which will help identify the online activities of criminals has been developed at InfoLab21 through the collaboration of an academic and a resident business.

Matt Potts, an MSc student of the Computing Department, has been working with Isis Forensics, a Lancaster University spin out company based in InfoLab21, to develop a new technology to help law enforcement agencies identify the digital fingerprint of a device connected to the Internet.

Traditionally, determining a device's online identification has been based on associating it with an IP address. However this can prove to be an unreliable approach, as an IP address could be shared by multiple users or, worse, be 'piggy-backed' by a hacker. From a law enforcement perspective, this has frequently resulted in innocent people being accused of crime.

As part of his MSc project, Matt worked with Isis Forensics to develop an alternative approach to identifying a device, independent of its IP address. By using this technology, law enforcement agencies are able to build up a digital fingerprint of a device they may be monitoring, even if the IP address changes.

James Walkerdine of Isis Forensics said: "Sophisticated criminals who operate online will often try and hide themselves by frequently changing their IP address making it hard for law enforcement to track them."

"The technology that Matt has built with us will provide a valuable tool for overcoming this challenge. Not only will this help to stop innocent people from being wrongly accused, but more importantly ensure that the real criminals get caught."

"Matt has done excellent work with the company and is a strong reflection of the high quality of student that passes through InfoLab21. The general nature of Matt's technology means that it can help tackle a wide range of cyber-crimes, whether identifying the mass distributors of copyrighted material or help track the online activities of paedophiles. Our intention is to release a new range of products that will incorporate this technology."

Matt Potts said: "The process of researching the technology, learning how to build it, and finally having it come to fruition has been a challenging, but ultimately rewarding one. Knowing that the software I've created will be used in a real world scenario - rather than it being a purely academic exercise - gives me a genuine sense of satisfaction."