Tuesday, March 25, 2014

UP Students Reach World Finals of Kaspersky Lab Tilt

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Bagging one of the top prizes in the recent regional round, three students of the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD) are advancing to the final phase of an international conference hosted by secure content and threat management solutions developer, Kaspersky Lab.

The research paper of Computer Science students Adelen Victoria Festin, Camille Salazar and Flor Marie Carmeli Sison finished third place in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa Cup of the annual conference dubbed as CyberSecurity for the Next Generation (CSNG).

The Filipino students took home a prize of US$750 for their study "Communect: Secure Community Connection Using OpenBTS as an Alternative Base Station," which was presented at the regional event held at the Korea University in Seoul, South Korea last March 11 to 13.

Aside from the cash prize, Kaspersky Lab also sponsored the travel, accommodation and city tour of the group representative in South Korea.

Through their research paper, the UPD students introduced Communect, a low-cost, easy-to-deploy, alternative and secure open source-based (OpenBTS) communication system where mobile phone users can connect to make calls and send messages, particularly in areas
that do not have access to conventional mobile networks or areas with damaged telecommunication systems.

According to the group, Communect is packed with features specifically designed for community development since it has applications for the centralization of information dissemination, such as community alerts and inter-agency communication.

Communect can also be used as an emergency response tool of the government with its applications for the organization of disaster risk management activities, such as emergency message monitoring and survivor recording.

Team representative Festin said they may have won because their research paper is "very applicable and timely" and has a huge impact to communities, particularly those in a country like the Philippines that is frequented by devastating natural disasters.

"Originally, the idea of Communect is about its broadcasting features and focused on security. However, when the Bohol earthquake and the typhoon Yolanda happened, [the group] gradually shifted to the idea of a secure communication base station that can also be used in emergency situations and in rural communities without compromising security," the UPD students said in their explanation about Communect.

The group is under the advisory of Dr. Susan Pancho-Festin, founder of UP Diliman's Computer Security Group, one of the research groups of the Department of Computer Science that focuses on the enhancement of the security of enterprise and mobile applications through research in cryptographic algorithms, message protocols and the latest developments in cryptographic attacks.

The UPD students were among the 15 competing groups in the regional round. The participants showcased their research papers to a program committee of Kaspersky Lab security analysts, industry experts, scientists and professors.

Claiming the top prize of US$1,500 was Weizhi Meng from the City University of Hong Kong for the presentation "Evaluating the Effect of Multi-Touch Behaviors on Android Unlock Patterns."

Jaeho Lee from the Center for Information Security Technologies (CIST), South Korea, clinched the second prize of US$1,000 for the paper "A Study on Unknown Malware Detection using Digital Forensic Techniques."

The same UPD team that ranked third also presented another paper, which was about SecuriThief, an alternative tool to teach children online security in the form of a computer game using true-to-life simulations.

Salazar, the team representative for this other study, was also awarded with a special prize for Best Presentation during the regional contest.

The Philippines had two other qualified papers that were also submitted by UPD students. Teammates Dan Antonio Reyes, John Smith Paraggua and Ray Torres introduced the Binary Login using Android Device or what they call BLADE System, an easy-to-deploy solution using a two-factor authentication system.

Rose Ann Sale-Zuniga solely authored the last paper which proposed a usable, secure and dynamic design for a task-role-based access control for Personal Health Record systems.

The Philippines and Malaysia were the only Southeast Asian nations that made it to this year's regional round. Malaysia had two qualified submissions.

Elated by the outcome of the regional event, Kaspersky Lab Southeast Asia Channel Sales Director Jimmy Fong noted that the students' active participation is part of the efforts of Kaspersky Lab in involving the youth in fighting cybercrime.

"A testament to the brilliance of Asian students in the field of cybersecurity is the quality of these research papers that surely offer significant use," Fong said.

“Kaspersky Lab will continue to equip these young minds with the right knowledge to help them develop more and even greater ideas for cybersecurity. I hope that the Asian winners will excel in the world finals," he added.

In the coming final round, the UPD students and the other winners of the Asia-Pacific and MEA Cup will compete against the winners of the three other regional rounds of the Kaspersky student conference: the European Cup, the Russia and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Cup and the Americas Cup.

All the global finalists will have a chance to win cash prizes ranging from 750 Euro up to 1,500 Euro during the last round to be held in Stockholm, Sweden this June.

Kaspersky Lab will again shoulder the travel, accommodation and city tour of the presenter or group leader of the research teams that have qualified for the world finals.

Aside from the main competition, the CSNG program includes activities such as panel discussions, expert presentations and workshops.

Financed and organized by Kaspersky Lab, the annual international student conference brings together students, young scientists and researchers, leading IT security experts and university professors from across the world in a collaborative environment to present and discuss topical cybersecurity issues.

Among the topics suggested to participants this year were emerging threats for emerging platforms, cloud security, virtual and "big-data" infrastructure, future protection technologies, corporate infrastructure security and security education.

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