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Concordia hosts a hands-on cybersecurity contest for students

Carol Fung leads the Canadian division of the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition
December 12, 2022

A group of students pose smiling in front of a projected image of sponsors. The Concordia Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition team.

A professor at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science is proving to have the interest of student learning at heart.

Carol Fung, Gina Cody Research Chair on Cybersecurity and the Internet of Things, hosted the Canadian division of the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) at Concordia this November. It was the first time the university participated in the international contest, which involves more than 100 schools across seven global regions.

The first round of the competition for the Canadian division of the CPTC took place on November 19 and 20. Under the leadership of Fung, who is also an associate professor at the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering, the university’s team competed against Champlain College of Saint-Lambert, Quebec, for the Canadian title.

“The nature of the event is to provide a platform for the teams to compete against their peers using their penetration-testing skills, or finding the weakness of a system and reporting it to system owners. These are skills that are typically expected of white-hat hacks in the workforce,” explains Fung, referring to hackers who aim to identify a current system’s vulnerabilities.

A ‘shining example’ of experiential learning

The CPTC works with sponsors and volunteers to develop a mock organization seeking penetration-testing services. This allows students to act as a consulting firm as they learn and practice penetration testing in a real-world scenario.

Each team is scored on the technical vulnerabilities they uncover in the mock company’s network, as well as their professionalism and communication skills. They are also given access to the mock company’s information technology and management teams for any issues they encounter.

“The CPTC is unique in that it mimics the real industrial environment,” Fung adds. “As a result, students leave armed with hands-on knowledge for their future careers as security specialists. This competition is a shining example of how experiential learning provides students with tangible skills to bring to the workplace.”

The Concordia team members learned they’d won the Canadian division during the closing ceremony on November 20. They hope to advance to the global finals against the other division winners at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s ESL Global Cybersecurity Institute in Rochester, New York, in January 2023.

“This experience allowed us to hone our skills in a real-world scenario, giving us a peek into what our careers will look like as working professionals,” says Benjamin Teyssier, the Concordia team captain. “We are thrilled with the outcome of the competition and the confidence our team gained as a result.”

Shaping the future of cybersecurity experts

Fung’s own work focuses on finding security and privacy solutions for end users of the Internet of Things. She also looks at ways to make security accessible for users who are not technically savvy.

“My hope is to train a lot of cybersecurity workers for Canada,” Fung says. “I want to provide impactful solutions to protect the security and privacy of everyday people.”

Learn more about Concordia’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Discover the Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering.


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