Facebook donates $250,000 to help fight cybercrime (using money acquired from spammers)

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Law & order, Malware, Spam

Congratulations to our good friends at the University of Alabama at Birmingham whose Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research (CIA|JFR) have been awarded $250,000 by Facebook, for the great work they do helping fight cybercrime.

Gary Warner, director of Research in Computer Forensics, and CIA/JFR students

What makes the donation particularly sweet is that the money comes from a pot of funds recovered by Facebook from spammers around the world. To add more salt to the wounds of spammers, the donation will be put towards a new expanded version of the CIA|JFR headquarters, due to be opened next year.

Facebook's donation to UAB CIA|JFR is in recognition to the work the center does in tracking down spammers around the world, including assistance they gave to the uncovering of the notorious Koobface gang.

Joe Sullivan, security chief at Facebook, applauded the work done by the University, and the need for trained cyber-professionals:

"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"

In January 2012, the New York Times, went public about a top-secret operation conducted by Facebook and computer security researchers around the world, exposing the names of five people it believed were responsible for the Koobface worm: a botnet which has helped its creators earn millions of dollars every year by compromising computers.

Koobface suspects

Naked Security told the in-depth story of how these individuals were identified as part of the Koobface gang, in a detailed investigation conducted by independent researcher Jan Drömer, and Dirk Kollberg of SophosLabs between early October 2009 and February 2010.

It's an incredible detective story of tireless investigation, which involved scouring the internet, searching company records and taking advantage of schoolboy social networking errors made by the suspected criminals, their friends and family.

Read: The Koobface malware gang - exposed!

The researchers at SophosLabs would like to congratulate the team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on the donation from Facebook. More power to them and similar experts around the world, helping investigate cybercrime and making the online world a safer place!

Image credit: UAB

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2 Responses to Facebook donates $250,000 to help fight cybercrime (using money acquired from spammers)

  1. Andrew Symmons · 731 days ago

    Wel done Facebook for doing this, it is nice to see that you are trying to ptoyect your clients in this way . may be more sites will follow your example

    • Fred Sagen · 731 days ago

      Actually it was work done by the University of Alabama that gave FaceBook the upper hand in pursuing these spammers and, potentially, access to their ill-gotten gains of upwards of $2million.

      Perhaps a further award might go to The Information Warfare Monitor, based in Canada's University of Toronto and in Quebec, who also provided valuable research into KoobFace's inner workings.

      The award to Alabama will be regarded as more of an investment than a charitable gesture by Mark Zuckerberg. (Probably still tax-deductible.)

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.