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Facebook Donates $250,000 to U Alabama, Birmingham To Fight Malware

The University of Alabama at Birmingham's Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research (CIA|JFR) has received $250,000 from Facebook for its efforts to international cybercriminals.

"As a result of numerous collaborations over the years, Facebook recognizes the center as both a partner in fighting Internet abuse, and as a critical player in developing future experts who will become dedicated cybersecurity professionals," said Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Facebook. "The center has earned this gift for their successes in fighting cybercrime and because of the need for formal cybersecurity education to better secure everyone's data across the world."

Provided by money Facebook has recovered from spammers, the donation was awarded in recognition of efforts by the center to fight Koobface (an anagram of facebook), a worm that used social networks to create a botnet that installed additional malware and answered search queries with advertisements.

On January 17, 2012 Facebook posted a message about Koobface that read, in part, "After more than 3 years and numerous hours of working closely with industry leaders, the security community, and law enforcement, we are pleased to announce that Facebook has been free of infections for over 9 months."

At the end of the statement, the company thanked four people for their work on Koobface, including Brian Tanner, who was then a UAB student, and Gary Warner, director of Research in Computer Forensics at the university.

The funds will be used to expand the center's headquarters, which adds more than 1 million spam emails to its UAB Spam Data Mine each day and "gathers resources from law enforcement, business, government agencies and academia," according to information released by the university.

"Cyberattacks are ever-evolving and multiplying and the well-being of society depends on a highly trained workforce, so we thank Facebook for helping bolster the center as we continue to educate the next generation of cybercrime solvers," said Anthony Skjellum, chair of the UAB Department of Computer and Information Sciences and co-founder of the CIA|JFR. "The Facebook Suite will be the CIA|JFR nerve center. It will be the place where cybervisionaries from around the world will gather to share ideas, discoveries and solutions."

"Cyberattacks are generally perpetrated by sophisticated networks, so we all realized that any successful effort to combat them would likewise require a specialized network that could compete with anything operating in the underworld," said Interim UAB President Richard Marchase. "The center has already assembled an internationally respected team, and now Facebook's generous contribution will help provide us with a state-of-the-art headquarters, positioning UAB at the vanguard of the global fight against cybercrime."

More information about the Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research is available at thecenter.uab.edu.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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