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Fox graduate students advance to final round of National Cyber Analyst Challenge

October 7, 2015 //
Five Fox graduate students in the Master’s of Science in IT Auditing and Cyber-Security program advanced to the final round of the National Cyber Analyst Challenge. They are, from left to right: Ibtissam Bazzine, Jose Gomez, Nick Nguyen, Kerwing Hy, and Jeta Gjana.
Five Fox graduate students in the Master’s of Science in IT Auditing and Cyber-Security program advanced to the final round of the National Cyber Analyst Challenge. They are, from left to right: Ibtissam Bazzine, Jose Gomez, Nick Nguyen, Kerwing Hy, and Jeta Gjana.

A team of graduate students from Temple University’s Fox School of Business has advanced to the final round of the National Cyber Analyst Challenge, sponsored by Lockheed Martin.

The students, from Fox’s Master of Science in IT Auditing and Cyber-Security (ITACS) program, will compete against teams from eight other colleges and universities for a $25,000 grand prize. By virtue of having advanced beyond the first round, these teams will receive significant awards ranging from $7,500-$15,000 to support student, faculty, and curriculum development.

Fox’s team includes: Jeta Gjana, Jose Gomez, Kerwing Hy, and Nick Nguyen, from the ITACS program’s security track, and Ibtissam Bazzine, of ITACS’ auditing track.

The first phase of the National Cyber Analyst Challenge consisted of an analysis of a complex real-world case created by Lockheed Martin experts. Participating teams received documents pertaining to a fabricated company and files that were meant to replicate a report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

“In short, we were asked to find the source of a cyber hack, then answer why it happened and explain how to prevent it from happening again,” Hy said.

The team from Fox, which is coached by ITACS professors Ed Ferrara and Wade Mackey, pored over 75 gigabytes of data to find the cause of the hack, before submitting a 10-slide summary report within which it explained its solution for preventing future cyber attacks. All entries were reviewed by a panel of judges and scored on technical quality, accuracy, and presentation.

In the process, Gjana said, she and her teammates were tasked with learning the fundamentals of computer programs to help in their case analysis.

“We weren’t limited in which tools we could use, which actually required a good deal of self-training in tools we had never used before,” Gjana said.

For the National Cyber Analyst Challenge’s second phase, the team will complete two extensive training sessions with Lockheed Martin officials via web-conferencing platform WebEx, in advance of the final round, Nov. 5-6 in Washington, D.C.

“Because the last phase will have time constraints placed upon it, our team will take the approach of each member concentrating on becoming an expert in separate tools,” Hy said. “This way, when we arrive in Washington, we’ll be prepared to tackle any challenge, knowing we have someone on our team who is incredibly proficient at any particular tool.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to represent Temple and Fox in a competition of this level.”

The National Cyber Analyst Challenge, in its first year, is sponsored by Lockheed Martin, in conjunction with the Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT) at Temple University. IBIT provides cutting-edge knowledge and valuable connections to sustain excellence in information technology. IBIT integrates industry perspectives with academic research expertise to create forums for generating and exchanging best practices.

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