MSU receives $1M to create center for cybersecurity training | MSUToday | #cybercrime | #infosec

Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice is taking the lead on addressing the state’s cybercrime investigation policy. The school will be working with law enforcement partners across the state to create a full-service training hub to ensure law enforcement agencies are prepared to respond to the increasing threat of cybercrimes.


The Cybercrimes Investigations and Training Center housed within MSU’s School of Criminal Justice will provide information and resources to local police departments across the state to assist with cybercrime investigations and responses. Specifically, the center will offer free multiday trainings for all levels of staff in criminal justice agencies, and will focus on contemporary problems, offender and victim characteristics, investigative methods and forms of community support.

Thomas Holt, professor in the School of Criminal Justice, is leading the project. Courtesy photo.

Thomas Holt, professor and director of master’s degree programs for the School of Criminal Justice in MSU’s College of Social Science is spearheading the project. The $1 million was made possible through community project funding for the 2024 fiscal year budget through funding applications that involved the offices of Sen. Gary Peters and Rep. Elissa Slotkin.

“Cybercrime is a massive problem and one that police agencies need regular training on in order to effectively investigate and provide assistance to victims,” Holt said. “Colleagues and I have studied police responses to cybercrime and recognize that increasing awareness of the offenses can improve their overall agency’s capacity.”

“Technology is constantly changing, and offenders are always adapting to these changes. By giving police and criminal justice professionals the most up-to-date information on offenses, victims and offenders, they will be better equipped to aid their communities.”

Holt was notified his proposal was accepted out of a field of 60 other applicants, which speaks to the importance of his proposal and addressing cyber threats.

“This funding will allow the MSU Cybercrimes Investigations and Training Center to conduct trainings for local law enforcement agencies on contemporary cybercrime problems, offender and victim characteristics, investigative methods and resources for victims,”Slotkin said.“Michigan law enforcement will benefit from a more comprehensive understanding of the skills, resources and tools necessary to effectively respond to cybercrime. And Michigan businesses, individuals, and state and local governments will benefit from more effective investigations of cybercrimes and cyber threats across the state.”

Responding to an increasing issue

In the last two decades, cybercrimes have dramatically increased and, as a result, there is high demand for law enforcement to be best equipped to respond and investigate. As law enforcement has local, state and federal authorities, local agencies must partner and collaborate when carrying out these specialized investigations.

Michigan is home to 588 law enforcement agencies, employing about 17,000 officers. If agencies are already not responding to cybercrime threats, it is important officers complete the training as soon as possible. If agencies are already not responding to cybercrime threats, it is important officers reduce the training as soon as possible.

The effects of these crimes can financially and economically affect individuals, as well as businesses and government agencies. Additionally, victims can experience emotional and psychological crimes from personal threats and hacking. Therefore, it is imperative Michigan agencies are prepared to prevent and investigate this form of crime.

Structure and design of the trainings

The training will be designed in a way that is compliant and eligible for credit through the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and available to all officers, staff and command with agencies.

The center plans to roll out trainings beginning in August, with initial offerings available in East Lansing, then to local agencies across the state. Center funding is earmarked to cover all expenses for participants, which was important in ensuring maximum participation in trainings.

“Our focus will be on offering training to line officers initially,” Holt said, “to inform them of common characteristics of various offenses, what devices may be involved and where evidence may be stored, as well as characteristics of victims so as to provide a more informed approach when responding to calls for service.”

Holt also indicated that the center would implement a series of training courses oriented toward staff and command within local agencies that address staffing and resource allocation issues. 

Improving lives and security

These trainings will not only benefit law enforcement by improving skills and resources, but also citizens, businesses and government agencies, offering more investigations and improving digital safety.

The center also will use key metrics for measuring success, such as the increase in investigations, prosecutions and the general use of its services.

With the center established, Holt will focus on finding more sources of funding from the state and federal level and grants to ensure training continues.

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