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News Byte: Cybersecurity Graduate Students Compete at GeekPeek Hackathon

January 21, 2022

Pictured from left: Hanmei Yang, Elina Kuznetsova, and Farshad Zare Dastenaei

In December, New York Tech-Vancouver cybersecurity graduate students Farshad Zare Dastenaei, Elina Kuznetsova, and Hanmei Yang participated in the Canadian Centre for CyberSecurity (Cyber Centre) GeekPeek virtual hackathon.

For five days, they competed against nine other teams from universities across Canada. The students worked in teams and directly with Cyber Centre professionals on problems related to machine learning applied to cybersecurity, network traffic analysis, cyber threat hunting, malware reversing, or programming.

Each course in New York Tech’s cybersecurity program gave the students the skills they needed to compete. “Projects in Computer Forensics, OS security, Network Security, plus our background skills in some security fields give us a broad range of knowledge,” said Zare Dastenaie. “Our professors taught us a variety of practical tools and techniques so we can detect advanced malware and its components by conducting effective analysis and forensics.”

This was the first time the three graduate students participated in the hackathon, and they feel the experience was invaluable. “It was a chance for us to learn more about cybersecurity and help spark our interest,” said Zare Dastenaie. “GeekPeek has taught us to further our abilities by thinking outside the box to resolve problems and combine an analytical approach.”

At the end of the hackathon, each of the 10 teams presented their projects and results to a panel of judges. In addition, the New York Tech student team was one of six teams selected to present elevator pitches about their project during the closing ceremony.

“This gives them hands-on experience applying what they have learned, using cutting-edge cybersecurity tools,” says Tokunbo Makanju, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science. “They also get the opportunity to network with cybersecurity professionals and other students from across Canada.”