The group’s performance “validated all the work we did and the great education we get at UNH,” said Joseph Ricci, a cyber systems major. “It gave us a sense of pride to have done so well.”
It was a ripped-from-the-headlines challenge: a corporation’s website had been breached – or had it? If so, how did it happen and who was responsible?“It was a very difficult competition,” Baggili added. “We just cranked and cranked and cranked and ended up submitting our report about one minute before the deadline.”
The work paid off as the team placed third among 184 teams from universities around the world.
Placing in a worldwide competition backed by well-known corporate sponsors, such as Amazon, and 65 academic partners brings notice and recognition and affirms that the University of New Haven’s cyber security major, while still new, “is one of the best programs out there,” said Baggili.
The first couple of months, they blazed along, analyzing the system and the scenario, determining there had been a breach. They were closing in on how it happened and who was responsible “when we hit a wall,” Ricci said.
“There were two files we just couldn’t access,” Meffert said “That’s when Professor Baggili jumped into the trenches with us. He was there every night those last few weeks, working with us past midnight.”
They posed questions and Baggili reminded them “to think like a “black hat” hacker – a cybercriminal. “It’s so interesting to me to think like hackers do,” Meffert said. “They break into a system to destroy things or to collect things and you have to put yourself in their shoes.”
Ricci said. “It gave us a sense of pride to have done so well.” Ricci and Meffert said having the chance to solve a problem like one they’ll eventually take on in the workplace was invaluable.
They recently began working on their second international challenge. The hours and hours of work it will take, in addition to their courses and other research projects, they said, isn’t daunting in the least.
“We’re excited to get started,” Meffert said.