Carnegie Mellon University
July 20, 2017

Christin to develop new tool to study online crime

By Daniel Tkacik

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate just awarded CyLab’s Nicolas Christin $206K to develop a tool that will enhance the ability to study online crime. The project, titled “A Query-able Platform for Online Crime Repositories,” aims to make the process of searching and collecting cybercrime information easier and more efficient for cybersecurity researchers.

“Our work primarily focuses on online anonymous marketplaces sales of contraband and narcotics, as well as unlicensed and illicit sales of prescription drugs and counterfeit items,” says Christin, a professor in the departments of Engineering and Public Policy and the Institute for Software Research.

Christin says that many researchers from other fields, such as economics, sociology or geography, have been interested in using his group’s data for their own analyses.

“The platform we’re developing will enable researchers from other fields to rapidly test and prototype research hypotheses, without having the immediately delve into the nitty-gritty of writing possibly complex database queries,” says Christin.

The new tool will not only be useful to other researchers, but to Christin’s group as well.

“It will be useful to quickly test our own hypotheses or get rapid answers to focused questions such as, ‘Have sales of synthetic opioids increased in the past year?’” Christin says.

The DHS award was made through the Science and Technology Cyber Security Division, and will last one year.

[Original Article]