Dr Petra Leimich (PhD, MSc, PgDip, Dipl-Math, SFHEA, CEH) is a Lecturer in Cybersecurity and Networks with a strong focus on Digital Forensics. She is the programme leader for the Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) BEng (Hons) Cybersecurity and for the BSc (Hons) Computing run in Myanmar, which focuses on Cybersecurity. She is a member of the Cybersecurity and Systems Engineering subject group in the School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, and an active member of The Cyber Academy at Edinburgh Napier University. Petra is a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and an active researcher. As Senior Fellow of the HEA and Senior Teaching Fellow, she is active in the ENU Teaching Fellows community. Petra holds PhD and MSc degrees from the University of Dundee.
Petra's early research was in the areas of Mathematical Biology and Epidemiology and Computing Education. She has been research active in Cybersecurity, particularly Digital Forensics and Incident Response (IR), for around 10 years. Her growing reputation in the area of cloud forensics led to an invitation to speak at the ScotSecure Summit in February 2020. Her current research interests focus on the areas of Digital Forensic Triage, Big Data, Cloud and Distributed Systems Forensics and Incident Response (IR). Other interests include memory forensics, approximate matching, web browser forensics and information security. Recent research investigates forensic methodology suitable for in-cloud forensics and proposes new methods for investigating digital artefacts left on a Hadoop Distributed File System Cluster. Work in progress in this area focusses on forensics and IR for NoSQL and in-memory databases. A second strand of recent research is fast forensic triage through sub-file features of image files, where images (jpeg, png etc) are compared to a database of known contraband without processing the whole file. In allowing a rapid assessment of evidence, this work contributes to reducing the overheads involved in all levels of digital forensic investigations. Applied to cloud storage forensics, such as Dropbox, this technique offers potential solutions where network bandwidth would otherwise be a limiting factor. Finally, recent work includes a forensic audit of the Tor Browser Bundle. This has developed a method to show not only that Tor has been used, but also which pages were visited, and will be of great interest to forensic investigations involving obfuscation, use of the dark web etc. Petra's research is informed by her background in Mathematics and Statistics, drawing on subjects such as game theory, sampling theory and experimental design. Petra has supervised one PhD in Digital Forensics to successful completion and is currently supervising a PhD students who is working on trusted evidence trails for investigations. This project aims to enhance the chain of custody particularly for digital evidence, by integrating blockchain and distributed storage technologies. Petra has also supervised over 100 Honours and MSc projects to successful completion. Petra and her students (Honours, MSc and PhD) have produced significant joint research publications.
Petra has a passion for teaching, particularly Digital Forensics and for contextualising Python scripting for Cybersecurity and Forensics. She has a strong integration of her research work into her teaching and dissertation supervision, and continuously strives to enhance the student experience, for example by integrating guest lectures from Police Scotland and other Digital Forensics Practitioners in her teaching. She also developed a mock crime scene investigation practical in collaboration with experts from Police Scotland. Current work in teaching and learning focuses on enhancing student support and gamification of Scripting for Cybersecurity, by developing formative programming skills quizzes with CodeRunner, that run students' code and feedback automatically to the students.
Petra is an EC-Council certified Hacker (CEH) and Senior Fellow of the HEA (SFHEA). She has completed four external examinerships and is currently external examiner with Leeds Beckett University for the MSc Computer Security and MSc Computer Forensics & Security, and with Bournemouth University for the BSc (Hons) Forensics Computing and Security. She is a regular referee for numerous journals and programme committee member for conferences, including IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics & Security, Forensic Science International: Digital Investigation; Journal of Digital Forensics, Security and Law; Journal of Cyber Security Technology; IEEE International Conference on Cyber Situational Awareness, Data Analytics and Assessment (Cyber SA). Her first invited talk related to CyBOK was on Database Security and held at South-West University of Science and Technology, China in 2009. More recently, Petra was the Invited speaker on Cloud Forensics: Opportunities and Challenges at the ScotSecure Summit (2020) in Edinburgh and co-awarded a SICSA Cyber Nexus Distinguished visiting fellow grant for a visitor from Morgan Stanley (US) (2019). She was also co-exhibitor with Sean McKeown at SICSA Demofest (2017) on "Copies and Contraband: Fast Forensic Identification of Duplicate Images".