University of New Haven Hacking Team Finishes Third in Regional Competition, Advances to Nationals

October 27, 2017

A group of computer science and cyber security majors defeated teams from Penn State, Drexel, the University of Buffalo, and Carnegie Mellon, which is regarded as one of the top universities worldwide in cybersecurity and technology education.

Hacking Team Finishes Third in Regional Competition, Advances to Nationals
Photo courtesy of NBC Media

Tyler Balon ’18 has been interested in computers since he was a kid.

“I like building them, taking them apart, and even breaking them,” he said. “Having the ability to break things is exactly what hacking is based off of: breaking security or finding vulnerabilities in a system.”

A computer science major, he showed off some of those talents as he was the leader of a team of University of New Haven students that finished third in a regional round of the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC). Balon and his teammates bested teams from Penn State, Drexel, the University of Buffalo, and Carnegie Mellon, which is regarded as one of the top universities worldwide in cybersecurity and technology education. The team will compete in the national round at Rochester Institute of Technology in November.

In addition to Balon, the team includes Justin Grannis ’17, ’19 M.S., Chris Meffert ’15, ’18 M.S., Rob Schmicker ’18, Matt Topor ’19 M.S., and Corbin White ’18.

As part of the 48-hour competition, the students performed penetration testing for a fictional company. They met with individuals playing the role of the staff of the company they were penetration testing, spent the next eight to nine hours attempting to compromise various devices on the company’s network, and documented their findings. The team then had until 8 a.m. the next morning to prepare a comprehensive report and a presentation they shared with the staff of the company they penetration tested.

Finishing third, Balon said, made all of the hard work pay off.

“It was extremely exciting,” he said. “All of the team members came off little sleep. Some of us who were finalizing the paper didn't get a minute of sleep all night. Sitting there exhausted, seeing the University of New Haven logo appear was an instant jolt of energy and excitement.”

“Experiences like this are a great opportunity for our students to practice their hacking skills, compete with other teams, and learn about professional penetration testing. These events also offer great opportunities to network with potential future employers. In the case of CPTC, making it to the nationals is a tremendous success for a small university like ours.” Frank Breitinger, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Team Adviser

Just a week after the CPTC regional competition, Balon led his team to a second place finish – out of 23 teams – at CyberSEED, a national cybersecurity conference hosted by the University of Connecticut.

Balon, Grannis, and Topor were joined on that team by James Hebert 18.

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Karen Grava, Director of Media Relaions