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Staff Profile: Dr Ray Genoe, Director CCI, UCD

Rupert Bowen, Marketing Officer in the UCD School of Computer Science talks to Ray Genoe, the Director of the UCD Centre for Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Investigation (CCI).

Tell us a bit about your career to date

I joined the School of Computer Science over 20 years ago, starting out as a mature undergraduate student before completing my PhD and subsequently working for the Centre for Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Investigation (CCI). Initially hired as a training designer, my love for teaching prompted me to upskill in the area so that I could begin delivering CPD training to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) across the world. Extensive travelling for this purpose allowed me to develop strong relationships with LEAs and see the unique challenges that they were facing in different regions. One common challenge that was observed, was the need for both tools and training, so I began to focus on developing technologies with and for LEAs, subsequently leading numerous EU funded projects related to tool development. More recently this has led to cutting-edge research, requiring larger grants and more contributing partners. In addition to participating in other Horizon projects, I am currently the coordinator of the  H2020 INSPECTr project. This has been one of my biggest challenges to date and one that I am quite proud of, since most of it was conducted during the pandemic. Despite this, the large consortium are nearing the successful completion of this ambitious project. I also have numerous project proposals submitted where we would like to examine the social impacts of cybercrime and also provide technical solutions and support to vulnerable industry sectors.

Tell us a bit about what CCI does? 

Under the previous leadership of Professor Joe Carthy, and subsequently Cheryl Baker, CCI has proven itself to be a viable centre that has had a huge impact on the law enforcement and cybersecurity communities for over 10 years. CCI continues to enhance the reputation of the university by providing training, software, consultation and advice to its stakeholders on a national and international level. In addition to training thousands of law enforcement officers across the world, CCI maintains an active user-base of almost four thousand cybercrime investigators from over 70 countries, on its software distribution platform. We are coordinators of the EU funded INSPECTr and FREETOOL projects and participate in various other funded projects. We are also a long-trusted provider of consultancy services to many national stakeholders, such as the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland and the National Cybersecurity Centre.

How do you feel about taking on the role of Director of CCI?

I guess I feel quite proud to have been considered for the position but there is also some degree of trepidation with the role. It’s quite the challenge to rise to the new administrative requirements of managing staff and projects, while assessing new opportunities and future strategies for the centre. As a self-funded unit, there is some pressure on the latter. However in the few short months I have been director, we have already submitted a number of project proposals which we hope will keep us busy for the coming years. I’m very thankful for all of the amazing staff in CCI, who have made the transition pretty seamless and have been as supportive as ever. Indeed the wider UCD community, particularly those in the School of Computer Science, have also been extremely helpful as I find my feet in the role.

What do you see as the strengths of the UCD Centre for Cybersecurity & Cybercrime Investigation?

I think the key strengths of CCI are the expertise of its dedicated staff and the relationships they maintain. As we’ve adapted to the requirements of our stakeholders over the years, the staff have gained a detailed knowledge about the challenges they face and developed a wide range of skills to meet those challenges. We also have an ethos of seeing things through to the end-user, often working beyond project requirements to ensure that everything produced by the centre is of the highest quality and to the satisfaction of our beneficiaries. The groups we work with know this, and our reputation has grown over the years as a trusted provider of training, software and consultancy services. This relationship is also rewarding. There is great satisfaction in receiving gratitude for our assistance, particularly after it leads to real-life results in the field; for example, guidance that leads to cyberattack mitigation, trained techniques that directly ensure a successful cybercrime investigation, or developed technologies that lead to the apprehension of a dangerous criminal.

What would you like to achieve as Director of CCI?

CCI is uniquely placed within the ‘cyber’ community and we are often approached with various opportunities to collaborate. Ideally I would like to hire more staff with complementary expertise, so that we can do more in the various sectors we engage with. I’d also like to explore more opportunities within the university, by collaborating with other researchers and other schools. While our focus over the years has primarily been on research into technical solutions, there are many opportunities for examining legal, social and ethical perspectives of cybercrime and criminality.

What advice would you give to someone considering study, research or a career in this field?

Take advantage of the excellent educational opportunities that are now available. The MSc in Cybersecurity, offered by the UCD School of Computer Science, is a great example of how you can further your education in this field. While a recognised qualification like this is important for future employment, you don’t have to wait for it to begin your education. Many of your future adversaries will not avail of a formal education to become experts in their field. There are countless online resources for you to up-skill and you should try to understand both cyber-attack and cyber-defence strategies.

What are the challenges facing law enforcement and cybersecurity professionals over the next 10 years?

The challenge for both will be keeping up with technology. Law enforcement are required to examine an enormous array of digital devices for all types of crime. The data recorded in the ever growing Internet-of-Things, requires a myriad of tools and techniques for conducting an analysis. Artificial intelligence will play a greater role in automating cybersecurity and quantum computing will challenge the integrity of current encryption standards. Understanding and utilising new technologies such as these can be somewhat of a race to the winning post for red teams and blue teams, which is why training and tool development is constantly in demand from CCI’s stakeholders.

Tell us a bit about your life outside UCD

I have two small children, who seem to be able to find all of my spare time. When they can’t I sometimes revert back to my previous career as a furniture maker, but usually just to fix whatever they have broken. Since they’re both at school now, I’ve recently decided to (re)learn Irish to keep up with homework - ach níl mé an-mhaith!

UCD Centre for Cybersecurity & Cybercrime Investigation

School of Computer Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4. Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 2934