Facebook Donates $250K Recovered From Spammers To UAB

By Jennifer Moire 

The Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced a $250,000 grant from Facebook Monday, and the funding comes not from the company’s coffers, but from money that Facebook has recovered from spammers around the world. The donation is in recognition of the center’s role in tracking international criminals behind social media botnet Koobface, as well as other spammers.

In announcing the grant, Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan said:

As a result of numerous collaborations over the years, Facebook recognizes the center as both a partner in fighting Internet abuse, and as a critical player in developing future experts who will become dedicated cybersecurity professionals.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, and according to the National Cyber Security Alliance website, Monday’s announcement kicks off a four-week education campaign to highlight the need for more programs like the Birmingham-based center to both fight cybercrime and focus on how industry and academia can work together to protect the Internet.

It’s also an opportunity to promote the importance of improved science and technology education in grades K-12. According to a blog post from the alliance’s executive director, Michael Kaiser, the need for skilled cybersecurity workers will grow by 50 percent in the next four years.

In a news release announcing the Facebook funding, Anthony Skiellum, chair of the UAB Department of Computer and Information Sciences and co-founder of the CIAIJFR, said:

Cyberattacks are ever-evolving and multiplying, and the well-being of society depends on a highly trained work force, so we thank Facebook for helping bolster the center as we continue to educate the next generation of cybercrime solvers. The Facebook Suite will be the CIA|JFR nerve center. It will be the place where cybervisionaries from around the world will gather to share ideas, discoveries and solutions.

The center provides students with real-world experience fighting cyber crime and other online attacks. Facebook’s donation will go toward a new headquarters for the center at UAB. The Facebook Suite is scheduled to open and make its debut at the second annual Cyber Summit Feb. 12, 2013.

Readers: Have you experienced cyber crime on Facebook or other social networks?