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UNT New College at Frisco houses Cyber Forensics Lab

UNT's criminal justice department has a new Cyber Forensics Lab at the UNT New College at Frisco. The off-site instructional facility houses the area's only cyber laboratory solely dedicated to analyzing cellphone data from devices used in criminal activities.

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. Forensic analysis of cell phones and digital equipment (e.g., laptops, desktops, and tablets) will be provided as a fee-for-service to law enforcement and government agencies.

"What we've found is that cellphone analysis is a major need for North Texas law enforcement," Belshaw says."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."

Through relationships created by the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series, construction of the cyber lab was made possible by alumnus Steven Holmes 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.

"What they are trying to do is link up as many police departments and federal agencies as possible," Holmes says. "This is an important issue that people don't give enough attention to."

Additionally, new digital forensic technologies and strategies will be researched and vetted within the lab for use by law enforcement agencies. Undergraduate and graduate students will participate in the research.

"Cyber investigation is where everything is," Belshaw says. "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 says. "They think it's going to be great."