Swansea University researcher delivers lecture at United Nations Masterclass on cyber threats

Please note, this page has been archived and is no longer being updated.

Swansea University cyberterrorism PhD researcher, David Mair, recently delivered a lecture on cyber threats to a United Nations Masterclass in Turin, Italy.

The lecture formed part of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) Journalism and Public Information Programme on New Threats, where topics such as cybercrime, cyberterrorism, verifying cyber sources and monitoring cyber threats were discussed.

The Masterclass featured five speakers drawn from three countries and was attended by 20 participants from 10 countries, with backgrounds in international news media, law enforcement, internet technology companies, and academia.

David MairUpon completion of the programme, participants are skilled in handling information related to new hazards to states and citizens. They acquire key tools to report facts and expand their professional network by meeting key international actors in this area.

Mr Mair’s lecture presented the research recently completed at Swansea University on how terrorist groups use social media to achieve strategic online objectives. In particular, he presented a case study on how Twitter was used by the terrorist group al-Shabaab during the Westgate terrorist attack of 2013. Mr Mair then contrasted this use of social media with al-Shabaab’s recent terrorist attacks against the Maka al-Mukarama hotel in Somalia, and Garissa University in Kenya in March 2015. During his lecture, he also discussed several themes including what terrorist groups try to achieve from journalists in terms of legitimacy, and how to verify identities and reliable sources in online environments.

Speaking after the event, Mr Mair (pictured) said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to present new research in an ever-changing and dynamic field to a group of expert journalists and researchers. Terrorist groups have turned to the internet in order to communicate with a wide variety of audiences, in a scale and scope that has never been seen before. Identifying who these groups are, who they are intending to communicate with, and what message they want to channel is a huge challenge for any researcher or journalist, so I am happy to have been able to share some of my experiences in this matter.

“I am very pleased to have been invited to discuss my work in such a prestigious and important event, and would like to thank UNICRI for their hospitality throughout the Masterclass. I benefited greatly from attending, and I learned a great deal from listening to the other lecturers and participants throughout.”