Software Partnership Helps Fill Need for Cryptocurrency Skills

  • December 15th, 2020
People discusss work being done on a computer screen.
In a photo taken before the pandemic, Dr. Diana Dolliver works with Austin Rife, left, in the Network Intrusion Lab.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In a unique agreement, The University of Alabama is partnering with the leading provider of compliance and investigation software of cryptocurrency transactions to provide cutting-edge education and training for students.

Chainalysis, the blockchain analysis company, will provide access to its market-leading software and training programs designed by instructional design and training experts for integration into a course offered through the UA Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Students will learn about cryptocurrency’s role in the financial system and criminal transactions as well as understand the principles of blockchain technologies that enable cryptocurrency.

Students who perform well in the class have the option to be tested and certified in Chainalysis software, which is widely used by financial institutions, government agencies and law enforcement. Students who achieve certification will be subject matter experts in cryptocurrency and blockchain analysis, and will be able to perform and lead cryptocurrency tracking and tracing for companies or government organizations.

UA is the first higher education institution to enter such a partnership with Chainalysis.

“There are not nearly enough individuals with this skillset, so the students who successfully complete the course and obtain the certifications will be extremely sought after by companies and government agencies for employment,” said Dr. Diana Dolliver, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice who will teach the course. “No other students in the world currently have this opportunity offered at The University of Alabama.”

Dolliver is the academic director for the Joint Electronic Crimes Task Force at UA and trains and works with law enforcement agencies on cybercrime cases. 

Even small, local police departments come across cryptocurrencies as, for instance, illegal drugs may be found with a suspected dealer, but there may be no cash present or a way to trace the chain of transactions to continue the investigation.

“There’s a major component of criminal investigations that can be missing,” she said. “As criminal activity continues to move to this digital currency realm, more people are needed who can identify and trace the money in this cryptocurrency form.”

“Chainalysis is excited to partner with UA to make cryptocurrency education available to students interested in the future of crime and investigations,” said Jason Bonds, Chief Revenue Officer, Chainalysis. “Government agencies, cryptocurrency businesses, and financial institutions need talent to ensure the future of finance grows safely and securely.”

The course will be offered this spring semester as a special topics course, but will be ingrained in the curriculum as part of the cyber criminology minor that’s housed in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, which draws students studying business management information systems and computer science, Dolliver said.

During the course, students will learn key concepts of cryptocurrency transaction analysis, recognize the value proposition of cryptocurrencies and understand how blockchain analysis can be used to develop risk assessments. They will build on basic usage and apply professional techniques in Chainalysis software, and will use real-world examples to derive actionable blockchain intelligence to investigate illicit activities. Also, students will receive interactive training using practical examples to discover business compliance philosophy and determine appropriate compliance workflows. Successful students can also achieve multiple industry-leading Chainalysis certifications, enabling them to apply and carry these skills forward into available roles in this cutting-edge industry.

Contact

Adam Jones, UA communications, 205-348-4328, adam.jones@ua.edu; Maddie Kennedy, Chanalysis director of communications, Maddie@chainalysis.com, 914-584-0386

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.