Students help fight cybercrime

Tulsa police Cyber Crimes Unit

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In an unusual arrangement, Tulsa, Okla., police are teaming up with students at the University of Tulsa to help investigate and stop cybercrime.

Within the next few weeks, the Tulsa police Cyber Crimes Unit is moving to a new office on the university campus, said Maj. Lynn Jones, who was involved in setting up the arrangement before she retired from the Tulsa Police Department. "We're looking for some great things to come out of it," she said at the 2002 Cyber Corps Symposium last week in Tulsa.

Under the agreement, computer science students will work with the Tulsa police to help them investigate child pornography, fraud and forgery, identity theft and other crimes committed via computers, said Detective Scott Wanzer of the Cyber Crimes Unit.

The arrangement makes sense, Wanzer said. The student interns gain real-world experience by learning what a forensic investigator does, and the officers gain expertise in new software tools, research and techniques.

But there are limitations. Because the students are regular citizens, "we don't want to draw them into legal matters," which could involve testifying in court, Wanzer said. "But if they're working side by side with us, they can be assisting us in a critical way."

Already, Tony Meehan, a student who participates in the Defense Department's version of the Federal Cyber Service program, has developed software that could help the police.

President Bush wants people to help protect the nation from cyberattacks, but there is not enough money or people to do so, said Sujeet Shenoi, a computer science professor at the University of Tulsa. "Why not encourage students to work with state and local agencies?"


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