Graduate Focus

Mitch Macdonald wins best paper award

November 05, 2015

MA student Mitch Macdonald won best paper award at the International Symposium on Foundations of Open Source Intelligence and Security Informatics, held in Paris, France in August.

The symposium brings together academics, government officials and industry practitioners to discuss innovative technologies aimed at preventing web crime.

Macdonald was lead researcher on the winning paper titled, “Identifying Digital Threats in a Hacker Web Forum.” Richard Frank, Joseph Mei and Bryan Monk were contributing authors.

The paper analyzed content posted to online hacker forums through automated techniques to identify a subset of the data relevant to the security of critical systems.

“This paper contributes to a growing body of research that uses data mining techniques to analyze large volumes of information within a cyber-security context. Our main contribution was the use of automated tools in complement with one another, to facilitate each stage of the research process from data collection to sampling to analysis, ” says Macdonald.

“Dr. Frank presented at the conference, which was focused on the exchange of methods for the collection and analysis of open source data (available on the Internet). This paper added to the conference by presenting another method and a novel set of results. Attendees were interested in how we used a tiered-approach to ultimately highlight interesting parts of the data.”

The paper was prepared as part of Macdonald and Frank’s support of a project funded by Public Safety Canada. The project analyzed open source data pertaining to Canadian critical infrastructure systems made available in hacker forums.