NYUAD Researchers and UAE High School Students Excel at Cyber Security Competition

A team of NYU Abu Dhabi researchers recently won the Embedded Systems Security Contest at the 10th Annual Cyber Security Awareness Week in New York, the world's largest student contest in cyber security. The NYUAD team — the MoMA Avengers — consisted of Nektarios Georgios Tsoutsos and Charalambos Konstantinou, both PhD students at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) who work with NYUAD Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Michail Maniatakos at NYUAD's Modern Microprocessor Architectures Lab.

The MoMA Avengers won a competition that tested both their ability to insert malicious changes into electronic chips and their skills in protecting these chips from extremely obscure bits of code, which are commonly called Trojans. The contest was sponsored by Columbia University and NYU-Poly.

"We designed our own malicious payloads to demonstrate that state-of-the-art detection techniques are sometimes not 100 percent effective," Tsoutsos explained. "Researchers can benefit from this work and build more robust detection techniques, which can then protect hardware manufacturers against a wider range of real threats."

Konstantinou added: "The experience of participating in the competition was a great opportunity that gave us expertise and knowledge on a very important subject."

Additionally, two high school teams from the UAE made it to the final of the High School Digital Forensics competition, which was also part of the cyber security awareness week. Both teams — Bitfield of the Indian High School and Ins0mnia of the Emirates International School Meadows — performed well in this extremely competitive contest, which featured more than 1,500 students.