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Cybercrime Crackdown

News Story

Thanks to his Pace education, Army veteran and information technology student James Ossipov ’15 is on the front lines of fighting cybercrime, one mobile phone at a time.

After a long stint on active duty in the Army, serving in Korea, Iraq, and Central Africa in a variety of positions, James Ossipov ’15 of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems found himself with a new challenge when he left: finding a career. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do on the civilian side, but I felt drawn to law enforcement—specifically, forensics,” Ossipov says. “After looking at different careers in the field, I thought computer forensics would be a good niche for me.” Ossipov was drawn to Pace for its undergraduate computer forensics offerings—which he felt was important to a future career. “They had courses in mobile device forensics, which intrigued me. That made the choice easy,” he says.

During his years at Pace, Ossipov has established his career and major in information technology with a concentration in computer forensics, and has had the chance to conduct extensive research in that specific area. “In my opinion and from what I’ve seen, especially with Law Enforcement, mobile device forensics is a huge deal,” he says. Through his research, Ossipov’s become adept at taking phones apart and analyzing their circuits, as well as extracting data from networks, Xboxes, and mobile devices using forensic methods like JTAG and chip-off, which let him tap into encrypted phones and bypass phone security—skills that law enforcement professionals value and need in a modern mobile device-oriented society.

But what Ossipov says has been a pleasant surprise while researching at Pace are the resources and support provided by the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems for his projects. “It’s been great. I have a lot of opportunity to do research, and when I need equipment—for example, I wanted to test out encryption on Android devices, with Lollipop—I told the staff, I let them know what I needed, and they got me some phones to play with,” he says.

Thanks to his hard work and JTAG training, which he acquired at Pace and is typically expensive training, Ossipov found an internship with the High Technology Crimes Bureau at the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, where he handles computer forensics for their cases and works with active detectives. “Being able to get that training here and to show up to a job and have the officers say, ‘Oh, we can’t get into that phone with our equipment,’ and being able to say, ‘Hey, I can get into that with JTAG,’ has been great,” he says.

On top of the resources that Seidenberg and Pace have provided Ossipov for his research and training, the University’s partnerships and connections have been invaluable to his education as well. He and several other students have had the chance to work with some private security programs used by Microsoft’s cybercrimes division, including PhotoDNA, an image-hashing program that helps them track and detect child pornography passed through their networks.

And while his career in information technology and computer forensics might be complex and top secret, his advice for new Pace students and vets alike is quite simple. “Find something you’re good at, and work really hard. If you put in the work, you can do anything,” he says.

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