Students Attend Cybersecurity Conferences

Nine computer science students and three professors attended the BlackHat and DefCon conferences in Las Vegas this summer, thanks to scholarships from Facebook.

Black Hat USA is one of the world’s leading information
security events addressing the latest cybersecurity research, development and
trends. Students had the opportunity to network and discuss career
opportunities with more than 19,000 representatives from top security solution
companies and to participate in two networking
events organized by Facebook – the Facebook Cybersecurity Networking Mixer and
Facebook University Mixer – where they met Facebook cybersecurity
professionals, administrators, faculty and peers from other universities
affiliated with the Facebook Cybersecurity University Program.

DefCon, the biggest national hacker convention, attracts
tens of thousands of attendees every year. 
This year, the conference featured 31 “hacker villages” where students
could test their cyber skills by hacking cars, aviation systems, voting
machines and mobile devices.

Computer science students Kestrel Bridges ’20, James Cavanaugh ’20, Daulet Diyarov ‘22, Shelby Mitchell ‘20, Hugo Renzzo Olcese ’20, George Osterweil ’20, Geovanny Vera Pazmino ’21, Danny Pires ’21, and Kelly Rose ‘20 were awarded the merit-based travel scholarships.  Professor of Computer Science Dr. Xiang Fu, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Dr. Angeliki Zavou, and  Adjunct Assistant Professor of Computer Science Uzo Osuno accompanied them.

“Hofstra’s collaboration with Facebook has contributed
significantly to the growth of our academic programs in cybersecurity,” Dr. Fu
said. “Since 2017, the Facebook-Hofstra Cybersecurity Program has helped us
offer six sections of the Cybersecurity for Everyone course, two cybersecurity,
colloquia, several student internship opportunities and 74 travel scholarships
to Hofstra students and faculty to attend respected cybersecurity conferences
like Blackhat and Defcon.”

Students were selected based on their performance in the 2018-2019
Cybersecurity for Everyone course, developed by codepath.org and sponsored by
Facebook.

“Attending these conferences gave me the opportunity to
network with the best cybersecurity professionals in the world and first-hand
exposure to how amazing this community is,” Cavanaugh said. “I left feeling
motivated to get to the same level of expertise as many of the speakers and
attendees.”

Cavanaugh, Pires and Dr. Zavou formed a team, “The Flying
Dutchman”, and successfully completed the “Honeypot Challenge” – one of a
series of Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions at the conference.  The competition involved intercepting and decrypting
messages by writing code to uncover hints for the next challenge.

“Blackhat and Defcon are the most interesting and fun
security conferences,” Dr. Zavou said. “Students had the opportunity to test
their cybersecurity skills and to see real hackers who have the knowledge and
the tools to break into just about any system imaginable, in action.”

For more information about Hofstra’s cybersecurity programs,
visit DeMatteis
School of Engineering and Applied Science.

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