UAB to host Facebook-sponsored cybersecurity competition

UAB and Stanford are the first U.S. universities chosen for Facebook-sponsored contest in which computer-security enthusiasts attack and defend from peers online.

Facebook gameA Facebook-sponsored game of cybersecurity Capture the Flag will be held March 22 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in which teams will try to penetrate peers' online security while defending their own.

UAB joins Stanford University as the first U.S. universities to host the Facebook event designed to test the skills of up-and-coming cybersecurity programmers and penetration testers from around the world. Working in teams of up to four people, participants will compete in a simulated security exercise, much like the game of Risk, in which they attempt to acquire countries throughout the world by penetrating a series of increasingly difficult security barriers.

Each challenge is designed to simulate a type of threat which companies across the world may encounter as part of a cybersecurity attack. Participants are first required to overcome existing security measures; in an added twist, once participants acquire a target, they will then have to defend it against fellow competitors.

“We all know that societies will continue to face these cybersecurity challenges in the real world,” said Gary Warner, director of computer forensics research at UAB. “Giving students the chance to experience real-world security issues is practical; it can help identify individuals who may prevent real-life security breaches in the future. Plus, it's just fun.”

This event is an added benefit of Facebook's longstanding partnership with UAB through its presence on campus with the Facebook Suite, which houses the university's Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research.

“This is a great learning opportunity for students across the state to participate in a Facebook event,” said Warner. “To have a major industry partner invest in the educational experience of young people in our area is significant.”

Auburn University, Hoover High School, Tuskegee University, UAB, the University of Alabama at Huntsville and the University of South Alabama all have teams entered to participate in Saturday's event. The event will be held from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Edge of Chaos in Lister Hill Library.

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