Swansea Uni cyber experts represent UK at Nato course

Two cyberterrorism experts from Swansea University recently represented the UK at a Nato advanced training course in Ohrid, Macedonia.

David Mair and Joe Whittaker, from the university’s College of Law and Criminology, attended the course which investigated terrorist use of cyberspace.

It focused on countering ISIS radicalisation activities through the cyber space in South East Europe. There were a total of 21 lectures conducted by 21 cyber experts.

The course was attended by than 50 people from sixteen countries working in a range of sectors, including military, law enforcement, national governments and academia.

Topics included terrorists’ use of advanced technology for the purposes of securing their online communications; the legal implications of suppressing terrorists’ use of the internet; and the use of cyber-attacks as a terrorist tool.

Professor Lt. Col Mitko Bogdanoski led the course. He said: “The topics examined during the course are of the greatest importance, covering the two most important objectives identified by NATO: cyber Security and terrorism.

“We are very pleased to have had Mr Mair and Mr Whittaker speak on these critical issues. We are glad that we have already established excellence and continued cooperation with the Cyberterrorism Project at Swansea University that always provides a significant and valued contribution to the events that we organise.”

Speaking after the event, Swansea University cyberterrorism research assistant David Mair said that Swansea University’s inclusion in this project shows that it is recognised internationally.

“The inclusion of two Cyberterrorism Project members at this event shows the high regard with which the project, and Swansea University, is regarded internationally,” he said.

“We are delighted to have been invited to share our research and expertise with our colleagues in South-East Europe, with such a distinguished group of lecturers and participants.”

David delivered a lecture that focused on the use of social media by terrorist groups and ways in which counter-terrorism officers can deal with this growing issue

On this, he said: “Terrorist groups have seized on the opportunity to communicate with global audiences and use social media to disseminate propaganda as widely as possible.

“Through understanding the methods they use, and the content they publish, we can identify more effective ways of disrupting terrorist use of cyberspace.”

Joe Whittaker, a PhD student in the College of Law and Criminology, presented a lecture on online radicalisation in the ‘Web 2.0’ era alongside David.

He said: “Although the prevailing wisdom regarding online radicalisation is that the Internet is merely a facilitator, we may have sufficient reason to doubt such a view in the Web 2.0 era.

“These case studies show that there may be instances in which social media plays a more significant role than originally thought.”

He added: “I am delighted to have been invited to such an event and over the course of the event learned a great deal from the diverse group of contributors.  I’m very grateful for being given the opportunity to lecture at this event.”