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Cyber security a challenge for students...

12 Sep 2014

The University of Waikato is to host a ‘zombie apocalypse’ cyber security challenge where students will attempt to access secure networks in search of an antidote.

Over two days on the 18-19 September, undergraduate, masters and PhD level students will participate in the event, the first of its kind in New Zealand.

The aim of the event is to raise the profile of cyber security as both a subject and a career. It is the brainchild of Dr Ryan Ko, director of New Zealand’s only cyber security lab, and fourth year student Grace Nolan.

The challenge is being strongly supported by the cyber security industry. Aura Information Security and PwC are sponsoring the event, with experts to offer to participants advice and discuss career opportunities. Internships may also be offered to suitable students.

Other sponsors include Lateral Security, Insomnia and Kiwicon. ConnectSmart, the government’s cyber security awareness campaign launched by the National Cyber Policy Office’s is also supporting the challenge.

On day one students will undergo training sessions and talks about the cyber security industry. On day two, students will use their security skills and knowledge to participate in a fictional scenario where they must breach security measures to capture tokens.

Baden Delamore, a masters student, is the main architect of the scenarios, and says although it is satisfying breaching a site’s security measures, the challenge is in defending a site.

“Attackers only need to find one hole, defenders need to know the whole thing inside out,” he says.

Ko expects around 40 students to participate, with much of the organising completed by graduate students from the Cyber Security Lab and students from the Computer Science Students Society.

He hopes that the event will build a network for students and those in the cyber security industry, and would like to open the invitation to other institutions and the public in future years.

“We want to create a platform which enables the industry experts to quickly identify talent, and for our students to show what they can do through the competition and networking sessions.”