Police and geeks meet in Beersheba to hammer out cybercrime solutions

A hackathon is an event where programmers, developers, and designers work intensively on projects, often with the goal of solving specific problems.

June 11, 2015 18:50
2 minute read.

Computer keyboard [illustrative].. (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

Over a hundred cops, techies, private security operators, geeks and hackers descended onto Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on Thursday, to take part in a 28-hour “hackathon” devoted to finding hi-tech solutions to cybercrime challenges facing law enforcement.

The “Future Cop” hackathon is being hosted at the university’s Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship and Hi-Tech Management, in collaboration with officer’s from the LAHAV 433 National Crime Unit of the Israel Police, which runs the organization’s cybercrimes unit.

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A hackathon is an event where programmers, developers and designers work intensively on projects, often with the goal of solving specific problems or just for educational purposes.

The event began Thursday with officials from the Israel Police presenting a series of cybercrime threats and technological problems facing law enforcement. Participants broke up into groups, with the goal of brainstorming solutions overnight until Friday afternoon, at which point the participants are to present their solutions to judges.

The top three groups win a mentorship from an officer from the cybercrimes unit, while runners up receive a cash prize of around NIS 3,200 to invest in a hi-tech initiative.

The chairman of the Bengis Center, Prof. Dafna Schwartz, said this week that the event is part of ongoing cooperation between the center and the Israel Police in recent months, adding that the Start-Up Nation presents fertile ground for such initiatives.

“When people say Start-Up Nation this is what they mean,” Schwartz said.

She added that the Bengis Center was among organizers of a meeting in late April at a bar in Tel Aviv “Technology in the Service of Crime,” which brought together police officers and cybersecurity professionals to discuss online security, the “Dark Net,” and other matters relating to crime and hi-tech.

Police officers present at the meeting included Asst.-Ch. Menahem Yitzhaki, the head of the Police Investigations and Intelligence branch and Ch.- Supt. Meir Hayon, the head of the police cybercrimes unit.

Ahead of the event, the Israel Police said that the issues they’d work to hammer out include implementing tablets, smartphones and other devices for use in patrol cars, methods of collecting and analyzing crime data, intelligence gathering tools, online forensic tools and ways to prevent and investigate malware and phishing attacks.

The 60-person cybercrime unit of the Israel Police was founded in late 2012, after the organization received funding from the Treasury.

At the time of the unit’s finding, Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino compared cybercrime to terrorism and called it one of the greatest challenges facing police departments worldwide.

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