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Students win cyber-security challenge

By Stephen Underwood
On November 28, 2011

With banking and business, as well as personal and national security information, being conducted online cyber-security and privacy is increasingly important. As the world's digital world continues to expand, cyber-security has become a career opportunity for many students.

On Nov. 14, three UConn students, Xuehui Zhang, Andrew Ferraiuolo and Nicholas Tuzzio, took first place in the Physical Unclonable Functions event at New York Universities' Polytechnic Institute's eighth Annual Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW).

The event allows future protectors of national security and privacy, cyber-banking and infrastructure to compete in competitions. This year, hundreds of students converged on NYU's Polytechnic Institute's campus to take part in a number of different challenges. Each event had a specific category that was geared toward specific areas of expertise.

Among the events were the Embedded Systems Challenge, Physical Unclonable Functions, Embedded Systems Challenge, Malicious Processors Design, High School Cyber Forensics Challenge, Cyber Security Awareness Video Award, the AT&T Award for Best Applied Security Paper, a Quiz Tournament, and Capture the Flag.

The Embedded Systems Challenges allowed students to grapple with the ever-growing problem of securing hardware manufacturing. In the video awareness challenge, students had to produce public service announcements on how individuals can protect their digital information. For instance, High School Cyber Forensics Challenge, students had to use computer forensic tools to solve a credit card scheme as well as a murder mystery.

The event allowed post-graduates, undergrads and high-school students to compete. In the AT&T Award for Best Applied Security Paper event, top doctoral students submitted their papers, which were accepted by conferences and scholarly journals to be judged by 50 professionals that volunteered and reviewed submissions.

The event garnered nearly 200 student finalists from over 207 international teams. Schools such as Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, MIT, Stanford University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Iowa State University, joined UConn among the school finalists in different categories.

Nasir Memon, head of NYU-Poly's cyber security program, said, "CSAW set records for participation this year in every challenge," according to an NYU press release. "We are gratified by the response of both students and the many judges and sponsors who recognize the importance of CSAW's goals. CSAW encourages talented students to pursue research and careers in this vital field of cyber security. It also enables students to build friendships with their peers and professionals so that they can stay current in this fast-moving field."

Next year, NYU-Poly's CSAW experience will lead to a new program for high schools that includes training for high school teachers, summer boot camp and a web portal to network and support emerging talent.

According to the press release, "The NYU-Poly CSAW challenges are among the oldest and broadest student-led competitions. NYU-Poly was one of the earliest schools to introduce a cyber-security program, receiving National Security Agency (NSA) approval a decade ago. It is designated as both a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and a Center of Academic Excellence in Research by the NSA."


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