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CyberEast Interview: The application of the UCD Forensic Computing and Cybercrime Investigation master programme in the work of combating online child sexual exploitation and abuse of children

Online August 2021
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CyberEast Interview: The application of the UCD Forensic Computing and Cybercrime Investigation master programme in the work of combating online child sexual exploitation and abuse of children

The CyberEast project, funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe through its Cybercrime Programme Office (C-PROC) based in Bucharest, Romania aims to support cyber resilience of the Eastern Partnership countries. The project builds on previous capacity building efforts in the Eastern Partnership region and on the good cooperation relationships developed along the years. What is less brought to the foreground, however, is the human factor and the work of individuals driving the progress forward in the country. In this interview you can meet Artur Degteariov working with the General Inspectorate of Moldovan Police fighting online child sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Artur is also a master student in the Master programme MSc Forensic Computing and Cybercrime Investigation offered by the University College Dublin, in Ireland, through the CyberEast project, and a long-term country team member of the CyberEast project driving progress on cybercrime in the Eastern Partnership region.

 

C-PROC: Can you please introduce yourself? Tell us a bit about you and your work?

Artur Degteariov: My name is Artur Degteariov and I am the Head of Section No. 3 of the Directorate for investigation of cybercrime within the Moldovan Police. The general tasks of my unit are to prevent and combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

 

C-PROC: You are one of the CyberEast students in the Master programme MSc Forensic Computing and Cybercrime Investigation offered by the University College Dublin, Ireland. From the modules offered so far in Malware Investigations, Live Data Forensics, Online Child Abuse Investigations, just to name a few, which module you enjoyed the most? And why?

A.D.: We had the opportunity to choose among several modules and the reality is that taking three modules per semester is probably the maximum that you could manage when combining a master programme with daily work, whilst taking the most from each of the chosen modules. The most I enjoyed so far are the following three modules: Network Investigations, Online Child Abuse Investigations, and Open-Source Intelligence.

I enjoyed the Network Investigations course because it is a core outlet for online investigations, and it explains in detail the technology of data transfer over networks. Online Child Abuse Investigations is a very interesting module that covers very extensively the phenomenon of child abuse online, not only from a law enforcement perspective, but also from a social, psychological and policy development aspect. And the Open-Source Intelligence module is a very exciting course because it makes you realize the huge volume of the valuable data that can be found online and that can make the investigation much faster.

 

C-PROC: How are these particular modules helping you in your day-to-day work? Can you give us examples?

A.D.: Network Investigations is one of the core modules and a very important one for understanding technology when conducting online investigations. The material helps you understand where and how to reveal digital evidence which is “on the move” within computer networks at hardware and software levels. This subject helps me almost in every single investigation case in terms of understanding the data flow and the question of what evidence can be collected for documenting the case.

Online Child Abuse Investigations is a module covering my job. I can say that even if I have a good background in this area for over eight years now, there was much new material to learn, especially for better understanding the problem of online child abuse and exploitation and its evolution in parallel with the development of technology. This course helped me to better understand how to tackle the phenomenon of online child abuse, which led to new grooming and child abuse material investigations at the national level, as we’ve seen this year.

Open-Source Intelligence is a module that helped me to better understand the strategy of collecting information using different Internet resources. Very often in cybercrime cases it is possible to find valuable information just by searching in the right place among publicly available online data. This module helped me to gather valuable data within ongoing investigations, including for identification of suspects.

Source: UCD O'Brien Center for Science

 

C-PROC: How are you sharing the knowledge gained in the master programme with your peers?

A.D.: I often conduct “guidance” presentations and provide training materials for my peers, explaining the things that are somewhere new for us. Also, I find it very useful to integrate the new gained knowledge in the material that I deliver as a trainer within the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Institute of Justice for police, as well as for prosecutors, judges and their assistants.

 

C-PROC: In your position as the Chief of the Division on Investigation of Child Pornography Crimes within the General Inspectorate of Moldovan Police, what would you say are the biggest challenges you’re facing nowadays?

A.D.: Probably the biggest challenge that we face in our unit is the very fast development of technologies used by abusers against children. The society tends to integrate the latest techs in daily human activity and often leaves the matter of security somewhere behind. Children remain vulnerable towards an abusive use of computer and of the Internet by offenders who are targeting such children, especially for the purpose of sexual abuse and exploitation.

 

C-PROC: Is there anything that the joint European Union/Council of Europe project CyberEast can do to support further your work and make a difference in Moldova?

A.D.: Taking in consideration the importance of capacity building in the area of combating cybercrime, it would be very valuable to have further training courses and exchange of expertise activities on the latest tech solutions for preventing and combating cybercrime by specialists who are currently practitioners in the area.

Also, I would like to mention the recent adoption of the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention, which comes to facilitate further international cooperation. It would be very helpful to benefit from workshops on these new provisions in order to promote the ratification of the Protocol by the Republic of Moldova and its implementation in the national law.