The White-Collar Hacking Contest: A Novel Approach to Teach Forensic Investigations in a Digital World

Michael Schermann, Santa Clara University
Scott R. Boss

Proceedings of 2014 IFIP 8.11/11.13 Dewald Roode Information Security Research Workshop


This paper presents the rationale, elements, and process of the white-collar hacking contest (WCHC), a novel approach to teach forensic investigations, management controls, and security in the digital environment. The WCHC is a round-based contest, where participants in turn act as those who commit fraud (fraudsters) and forensic investigatory teams. State-ofthe-art enterprise information systems serve as the playing field for the game. The contest was developed in close cooperation with experienced forensic investigators to ensure real-life conditions for both fraudsters and forensic investigators. This serious gaming approach helps to advance teaching on fraud detection and forensic investigations in the digital age in two important ways. First, it provides an intriguing way to teach forensic investigation methods to students of interdisciplinary backgrounds. In particular, students experience the role of both a fraudster and a forensic investigator. Second, the contest design helps to focus on ambivalent fraud schemes where a number of possible legal alternatives can be presented to rebut the gathered evidence. We also discuss the WCHC as a starting point for experimental research in fraud investigation.