Salve Regina’s broader cyber community of students, faculty, business leaders and state dignitaries will gather on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 6:15 p.m. to officially celebrate the opening of its new digital forensics lab, part of the university’s Administration of Justice (ADJ) department. The event will be held in the new lab (Room 261 of O’Hare Academic Building, Ochre Point Avenue) and will be actively in use by students enrolled in the mobile forensics class taught by industry expert and new Salve faculty Brandon Catalan.
The dedicated lab rounds out the university’s classroom-based instruction to provide future cybersecurity and digital forensics professionals with the hands-on training they need to fill crucial jobs in this emergent field. Training offered through the lab will also prepare students for the demanding industry-driven certifying examinations specific to the fields of cybersecurity and digital forensics.
“Salve’s made a big investment here building out this lab and devoting a dedicated space to the forensics program,” said Catalan, who, in addition to teaching “Mobile Forensics” at the graduate level is also teaching “Principles of Forensics” at the undergraduate level this semester. “Anyone who walks in will see the monitors, the keyboards, the projector and screen. What you don’t see is the server room behind me. We have our own dedicated server space, our own dedicated servers. There’s proprietary software loaded onto each one of these desktops. We’ve got the Cellebrite mobile forensics gear here. And that’s just the beginning.”
Salve Regina is one of two higher educational institutions in New England to be named an official partner of Cellebrite, the Israeli company that gained notoriety when the FBI turned to it to hack into the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of two people involved in the murder of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. in December 2015. Through its partnership with Salve, the company has shipped its mobile forensics hardware and software to the new lab.
With another grant, the university is currently in the process of purchasing new FRED machines (Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device). These are work stations that will allow students to image multiple hard drives at once quickly. “Those FRED machines are being used now in some of the larger companies out there – the Deloittes, the Raytheons – companies that have millions of dollars to devote to cybersecurity and digital forensics,” Catalan said. “Salve’s making that investment right now. We want everything in this lab to mimic what’s in the real world. What the students are going to come in here and learn, the software that they’re going to learn on, the hardware that they’re going to learn on, they can automatically and instantaneously transition over to an employer right when they walk out these doors.”
Looking ahead, Catalan envisions the lab benefitting not just cyber students in the ADJ program, but all Salve students. Many academic areas and businesses can benefit from cybersecurity training, including law, healthcare administration, insurance, public policy and international relations, to name a few.
The new lab operates completely separately from the university’s network, which is essential since the new teaching environment will include simulating cyber issues as network, malware, and key-logging attacks, virus inoculation and detection, and more. Internet protective and detective systems will be studied. Digital forensics analysis, capable of being upheld in a court of law, will be an important aspect of this practice-based instruction as well.
“We can offer students the ability to work on real cases – real law enforcement cases, real terror threat cases,” Catalan said. “We want to be able to carve out a classified environment for government research to happen here. That’s down the road, but beginning with this space, the tools we have right now, with the momentum we have with enrollment and new faculty, I think it’s going to happen a lot sooner than later.”
Salve Regina’s ADJ program offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in administration of justice & homeland security, as well as an undergraduate minor and certificates of graduate study. Concentrations ranging from juvenile justice to digital forensics to cybersecurity and intelligence are available.
Salve Regina was the first academic institution in the United States to require all its MBA students to take a first-of-its-kind cybersecurity course for managers and has been progressively including different cybersecurity components in many of its other majors by offering courses and concentrations that blend technology, policy, economics, law, and additional social disciplines. Beginning in fall 2017, all in the Healthcare Administration program will be required to take a cybersecurity course as part of their master’s degree, regardless of whether they choose the cybersecurity concentration.
Brandon Catalan has a decade’s worth of combined government and academic experience in the fields of digital forensics, cyber intelligence, network exploitation and information security. He has held technical leadership roles in the defense industrial base, where he provided counterintelligence support to focused cyber operations, and has also served with several agencies in the U.S. intelligence community on matters relating to surveillance and target acquisition, cyber exploitation, malicious code forensics and adversarial tactics, techniques and procedures. Catalan has been credited for his work on intelligence community assessments related to cyber threats and has presented at a variety of Department of Defense and commercial conference symposiums. He holds various certifications, including the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).