In December, the Denton County Sheriff’s Office donated $30,000 to help the UNT Cyber Forensics Lab assist law enforcement agencies to catch criminals through their technology usage.
The lab will purchase equipment to analyze cellphones and laptops. The donation was given from seized drug funds from drug dealers.
Left to right: David Wolf, vice president for advancement; Eric Fritsch, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice; Will Travis, Denton County sheriff; Scott Belshaw, associate professor of criminal justice and cyber lab director.
Video: Cyber Forensics Lab helping to solve crime
CBSDFW went behind the scenes at our Cyber Forensics Lab, housed at UNT's New College at Frisco, to show how the lab and the team of graduate research students will help law enforcement agencies fight crimes. Led by Scott Belshaw (right), associate professor of criminal justice and the lab director, they can analyze cellphones, tablets and laptops to extract data from text, apps and photos that can be used to solve crimes. Because of how quickly they can work, they'll help law enforcement agencies get through backlogs and stay ahead of criminals.
Watch the video on CBSDFW: Graduate Students Helping Wage Cyber Crime War
Cyber Forensics Lab to open at UNT New College at Frisco
The University of North Texas criminal justice department is on track to open a cellphone cyber security lab at the UNT New College at Frisco. The off-site instructional facility will house the area's only cyber laboratory solely dedicated to analyzing cellphone data from devices used in criminal activities. Classes at the lab will be available to all UNT criminal justice students. Associate Professor of criminal justice and cyber lab director Scott Belshaw says the goal is to connect with as many police departments and federal agencies as possible to accelerate investigation processes.
"What we've found is that cellphone analysis is a major need for North Texas law enforcement," Belshaw said. "There's such a massive backlog. Think about crimes involving cellphones – law enforcement needs the information in them, and they need it fast. It's my job as director of the cyber lab to get that information out quickly."
Construction of the cyber lab was made possible by an alumnus who donated $350,000 for its creation. He says he wanted to fund the project because it will impact all of North Texas and facilitate an investigational need to help solve crimes.
Belshaw is excited to teach UNT criminal justice students skills that will help them have a competitive edge in the workforce.
"Cyber investigation is where everything is," Belshaw said. "It's where students are going to get jobs. We want to make sure when they get out, they're trained to do it."
As for interest from law enforcement agencies, Belshaw says he expects the lab to have plenty of clients.
"I've had conversations with the FBI, with local police departments and they're all excited," Belshaw said. "They think it's going to be great."
- Cellphone cybersecurity laboratory planned (Denton Record Chronicle)
- UNT Cyber Lab to Focus on Cellphones Used in Crimes (Dallas Innovates)
- Cellphone cyber lab to open at UNT Frisco (North Texas Daily)
- The University of North Texas at Frisco Fights Crime with Cyber Security Lab (WBAP)