Research Showcase: Cambridge Cybercrime Centre

Research Showcase: Cambridge Cybercrime Centre

Guest post by Dr Alice Hutchings

The Cambridge Cybercrime Centre was established in 2015 with the express aim of making substantial datasets available for furthering academic research on cybercrime. It is located in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, at the University of Cambridge. The Centre is interdisciplinary, bringing together expertise from computer science, criminology, and law.

Our overall objective is to create a sustainable and internationally competitive centre for academic research into cybercrime. By sharing data, multiple researchers do not have to expend considerable resources collecting and processing the same datasets. Furthermore, we make research reproducible by enabling reuse of the same data.

The data collection process can often require specialised skills and technical understanding to build complex tools. Negotiating access with industry can also be difficult and time consuming, and often requires established personal connections that are out-of-reach for many. We have considerable in-house expertise to enable the data collection process, as well as close connections to industry. We break down these barriers to entry, enabling other computer and social scientists to apply innovative and creative ways of thinking about and analysing the data. By fostering and enabling this talent, we are creating a radical change in the international approach to cybercrime research.

We have an extensive data catalogue. Our most popular dataset contains more than 69 million posts and 1.6m accounts from 16 underground forums. Our honeypots provide datasets on DDoS attacks and victims, Mirai scanning and malware, as well as SSH connections. We have datasets containing blog and email spam, phishing and 419 scams. We have one of the most extensive datasets of phishing websites, going back over 10 years.

The Centre makes datasets available to academic researchers through data sharing agreements. This strong legal framework allows us to maintain our high ethical standards and legal requirements.

Alice Hutchings is a University Lecturer in the Security Group at the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. She is also Deputy-Director of the Cambridge Cybercrime Centre, an interdisciplinary initiative combining expertise from computer science, criminology, and law. Specialising in cybercrime, she bridges the gap between criminology and computer science. Generally, her research interests include understanding cybercrime offenders, cybercrime events, and the prevention and disruption of online crime.

This post was published as part of our Cyber Series, which will be running throughout October to mark European Cyber Security Month. You can read the rest of the posts in this series here.