The first ever university program in Australia on the famous dark web has been launched, with over 80 percent of IT and cybersecurity students nominating the dark web unit as their first subject.
Charles Sturt University (CSU) in partnership with an industry based organization launched an online masters program class for the school of computer science and mathematics. The University has seen the largest number of domestic postgraduate IT students enroll.
Martin Hale, the IT masters Managing Director, said that there was a heated debate and deep deliberations within the CSU school of computer science and mathematics on whether such a course should be offered.
“Initially when we proposed to have the course running we had prepared to face high resistance from all stakeholders due to the level of sensitivity on the matter,” Hale said. “However, with less than the anticipated resistance more consultation, the school decided that it was crucial to offer graduates with extra skills and knowledge on the dark web economy with relation to cybersecurity,” he continued.
According to Martin Hale, the dark web is a hidden growing economy where the anonymous marketplaces facilitate buying and selling of everything from illegal goods and services such as personal credentials, ransomware scams, hacking tools, drugs, weapons, and trade secrets. He described it as a complex, dynamic and mysterious combination of domains where all types of criminals meet, share information and trade their wares.
Hale indicated that over $72 billion worth of illegal transactions involve virtual currencies such as bitcoin and all go undetected. The majority of these transactions are connected to the dark web especially the denial of service attacks and malware which have been ranked as one of the worst risks emerging for all forms of business.
In every business, the security manager in the IT department would be negligent to not have a basic understanding of how the dark web works and the impact it has on their operations. “One of the best methods to effectively start combating and managing dark web cyber threats and massive crackdown of illegal dark web marketplaces is to give people a detailed understanding of how it operates and provide an end-to-end workflow for detecting and managing dark web events,” Hale said.
“This dark web subject has received a growing number of students registered for a Masters degree in IT and Cyber Security with over 80 percent choosing this online course as their first subject.”
The class is CSU Subject ITC578 Dark Web. It is offered to postgraduate students only, and lectured by Dr. Rafiqul Islam who is a Leader of Cybersecurity Research Team in the university.
Dr. Islam has extensive experience combating malicious malware and DDoS attacks. He has published over a hundred papers on cybersecurity and presented at over 70 conferences on the subject matter. He is well known for his contribution in the area of cloud and cybersecurity.
Dr Islam said about the course:
The subject will give the CSU IT student a broader view and understanding of the emerging dynamic digital threats. In 2017 alone the US Department of Defense spent $8 billion to address computer and internet crimes at the national security level. This shows how serious the problem has become as the massive dark web economy continues to grow and expand in secrecy. A lot of emphasis will be on hacktivism, identity theft, fraud, cyberstalking and structural attacks, as well as, a disciplinary approach to the dark web in the context of digital threats. We will be analyzing the online dark economy, the virtual currencies it thrives on and cyber attacks on the dark web. Students will also be exposed to dark web forensics and mitigating techniques and finally technological and social engineering methods used in undertaking such crimes.
According to Dr. Islam, the study further explores how dark web crimes are conducted on the surface web in mediums such as Peer to Peer file sharing systems and IOT (Internet of Things).
Dark web syllabus
The syllabus involves the following topics; Introduction to the dark web and various threats; malicious darknet; data analysis of Web content; dark web forensics; open Source intelligence…
Upon completion, the students are expected to; be able to differentiate between theoretical and cross-disciplinary approaches to the dark web; be able to analyze the evolution of the dark web in the context of emerging crime threats; be able to distinguish and classify the forms of cybercriminal activity through the dark web, and the technological and social engineering methods used to undertake such crimes; be able to investigate assumptions about the behavior and role of offenders and victims in the dark web; be able to analyze and assess the impact of cybercrime, along with the mitigating techniques used to defend against cybercrime; and be able to discuss, analyze and apply dark web-related research and applications.