By Devonna Dang
Computer Science Team traveled to NYU (New York University) to compete in a cybersecurity competition, CSAW (Cyber Security Awareness Worldwide) from Nov. 8 to Nov. 11. Two students from the team, President Anne Ouyang; senior Anh Thu Pham, Advisor Stewart Kuang will be attending the Final in-person round after qualifying as a top all-girls team.
According to Anne, hundreds to thousands of people attend the event. All finalist teams received a scholarship to NYU of $28 thousand and first place received double of the amount, $56 thousand.
Unfortunately this year, the Computer Science team didn’t place. The winners were announced at the award ceremony and a first, second, third place team is recognized for each region. First place was 1064CBread from Dos Pueblos High School resided in Santa Barbara, Calif., second place was n0de from Montgomery Blair High School resided in Rockville, Maryland, and third place was let-down from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North resided in Plainsboro, New Jersey.
“It’s a competition for everyone, including college students, professionals and there’s a special high school division,” said Anne Ouyang.
The high school division is named the RED (Red Team Competition) and is comprised of 11 US high school teams: 8 teams derived from 4 US regions of the top 2 scoring teams with no more than one team per high school, 2 teams from the top scoring all-female team and 1 team from the top scoring New York City team.
At CSAW Finals, the teams were given a brief story-line. They began with a single piece of evidence, which was a website with a login page and the other lead to a google drive with the company’s products, and needed to utilize forensic analysis to uncover further key evidence.
“They gave us a packet with leads to the questions that we had to answer and type a report on,” said Anh Thu.
Both physical and digital evidence is encompassed. Afterwards, they were required to submit a report with their findings and conclusions which will be then evaluated and scored by a range of credible industry judges.
“The highlight of the event for me was after the actual RED Team competition. We had enough free time in the night to explore and go to Manhattan and it stopped raining just before we headed out to Times Square,” said AnhThu
The competition had been redesigned as a two-part investigation for RED. The first round is the online Qualification Round which focuses on reconnaissance, penetration testing and skill-building. The second round is the in-person Finals, where they had to infiltrate and analyze findings of an operation and successfully abscond.
“(High School) students will need to apply skills related to forensics, cryptography, reverse engineering, exploitation and social engineering,” according to the NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s website.
This event was entry-level and geared towards students who had the intent of studying or working with cybersecurity, which protects computer systems from theft and hardware, software, or electronic data damage. The challenges hold the purpose to showcase rudimentary concepts and challenge students to enhance their skills.
“(It) requires players to integrate concepts develop skills, and learn to hack as they go. Challenges mimic real-world scenarios modeling various computer security problems,” according to the NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s website.
In addition, it provides an opportunity for students to improve their cyber security skills or to simply gain experience. For the students with no prior interest or experience in cyber security and digital forensics, RED gives assistance to proliferate a greater recognition of educational possibility and profession paths in the field.
“(CSAW’s) purpose is to promote awareness and interest in cyber security at a high school level,” said Anne Ouyang.
With participation in RED comes along a wide array of benefits: scholarships, prizes, travel awards, pre-college experiences, the experience of participating in an international competition with thousands of students from around the world and the opportunity to meet industry experts and learn about internships.
The CSAW RED Finals this year was held at four global academic centers: CSAW Europe at Grenoble INP-Esisar, CSAW MENA at the Higher School of Communications of Tunis, CSAW Mexico at University Americana Mexico City and CSAW US-Canada at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
The competition was sponsored by Applied Computer Security Associations so the trip to NYU was already planned for by the Computer Science Team.