Written by Program Manager Katherine Figueiredo
Part 1 Growing up in the Digital Age, I was always told to not click on links or files that could potentially lead to malware being installed on my devices. Most of the time, I listened to this sound advice. Chances are most of us, if not all of us, have been prospective victims of cybercrime. As Canada rapidly progresses through the Digital Age, cybercrime has become an ever-increasing issue. Canada implemented the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act in 2014 as an initial measure to protect its citizens from online crime. Since then, cybercrime and the way that it is perceived has evolved.
According to the RCMP, cybercrime can be described as a criminal offence involving a computer as the object or instrument of the crime. The official divisions of cybecrime in Canada are:
Technology-As-Target: This type of cybercrime describes criminal offences that target computers and other information technologies, such as the unauthorized use of computers or mischief concerning data. This can include hacking, phishing, or scamming.
Technology-As-Instrument: These are criminal offences where the Internet is instrumental in the commission of a crime. Common types include fraud, identity theft, organized crime activity, child sexual exploitation, or cyberbullying.
Cybercrime affects people daily, but when starting research for this program, I found I didn't know much about what actually constituted cybercrime. For this reason, I felt inspired to research and revitalize the work done by the museum’s previous Program Manager on this topic. The VPMA’s new cybercrime program series aims to educate participants of all ages on potential knowledge gaps that they may have where cybercrime is concerned.
Part 2 The first part of our new cybercrime program series is a non-linear storytelling and puzzle-solving activity. I wrote and coded this program and aptly named it "Catch the Hacker.” In this activity, someone has hacked into the Police database and infected it with malware. It is your job to figure out who that hacker was. Each clue given will help you solve the crime, all while teaching you about cyber security and cybercrime.
Participants can access this online clue-finding scavenger hunt from our website, as well as a link posted later in this blog post. I built this activity using a non-linear storytelling tool called Twine. Tools like Twine give creators the chance to present storylines in such a way that the ending can be affected by the choices a participant makes.
Using Twine has been a valuable learning experience and significant learning curve for me. I have no Information Technology background, but was determined to use Twine for this activity. Jumping right into programming and coding with an end-goal in mind but no prior experience was daunting, but through working on and completing this program, I learned how to code using basic HTML and CSS. Both of these coding languages gave me the ability to bring my vision for this activity to life.
You can find the link to this program below:*
* Please note that this link will take you to an external site at https://johnvance86.itch.io/catch-the-hackers. We have uploaded our game to this site as it hosts Twine games for free.
Part 3 Parts two and three of this tiered program are hands-on programs that will be available for booking through the museum website. These parts of the program will also be called “Catch the Hacker,” and will be ready to launch later this year.
Part two will be a program delivered in-person to groups that visit the museum (pre-booking required). This program will task participants with solving the case of who broke into the Police database. The suggested participant age will be 12+ years. A detail page for this program will be released on our website shortly before the program’s official launch later this year. Similar to our other programs, you will be able to request a booking for this activity through a program booking form on the webpage. As this is an in-person program, I have tried to ensure that there are no technical aspects to this program. As a program that is based on the ideas of technology, cybercrime and cyber security, I felt that including minimal technological elements would provide a fascinating contrast.
Part three of this program will take aspects of the in-person program and adapt them so that the program can be brought away from the museum and into your home or classroom. Similar to our “Forensics in a Box” program, users will be able to rent the box for one week, take it into their classroom or home, and then return it to the museum. Stay tuned on our social media, newsletter, or website for details on the launch of parts two and three of the program! Although the process of researching, coding, and preparing this program series was time-consuming and challenging, I had a lot of fun in the process, and I hope this series will bring you joy and teach you something new.