General News

Brightest Coding Minds Gather To Solve Future Cybersecurity Problems

06 May 2020
General

A Contest of Wits in Cryptography and Data Science

By Kelly Tan Yi Hui (20S70) and Tan Lyn Shann, Rachel (20S7B)

Hwa Chong Institution, with support from the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), Defence Cyber Organisation (DCO), and the Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT) organized the second edition of Cyberthon. Aiming to nurture young talents in cybersecurity amid the Singapore government’s on-going efforts to safeguard its cybersecurity landscape, this year’s competition was particularly significant as it was held completely online; bearing testimony to how the school innovates even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Held on 2 May, 224 students from 17 schools formed 56 teams to participate in this inaugural online cybersecurity competition organised exclusively for Junior Colleges/Centralised Institute. The second edition of Cyberthon adopted a Jeopardy-style ‘Capture the Flag’ competition format with challenges from five different categories – Network Security, Operating Systems, Web Services, Data Science and a CSIT Challenge. Passionate cyber-enthusiasts’ problem-solving and computational skills like cryptography, reverse engineering, penetration testing, web exploitation. Teams were given challenging tasks to overcome, using sound logic and methodology learnt during the CSIT pre-competition training in early April on basic cybersecurity and data science concepts

Mr Pang Choon How, Principal of Hwa Chong Institution, said:
             “As the Singapore government strives to introduce our younger generation to computational thinking through coding, it is important that we also evolve our curriculum and programmes to meet the needs of the future”

The group who emerged champions comprised Sherman Chann Zhi Shen (19S6K), Teo Kai Xiang (19S6A), Wu Jiayang (20S7B) and Zhang Yao William (19S6A). They are thankful to their teacher-in-charge, Mr Loh Tze Wei, their seniors, and the organisers for continuing with the competition despite the COVID-19 crisis.

Teo Kai Xiang (19S6A) summed up their invaluable competition experience most aptly:
            “The most difficult part of the competition were the numerous cybersecurity concepts used in the challenges that I have not encountered before. I can't say that I was not expecting this, as cybersecurity is all about learning on the go due to the massive amounts of concepts out there. But the abstractness of each challenge surpassed my expectations of the difficulty level of each challenge, and I learnt many new concepts during the competition in order to solve the challenges.

Clockwise direction from top left: Teo Kai Xiang (19S6A), Sherman Chann Zhi Shen (19S6K), Wu Jiayang (20S7B), Zhang Yao William (19S6A)

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