The University of Southampton

Southampton students take bronze in UK’s inaugural Inter-ACE cyberchallenge

Published: 9 May 2016

Students from Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton joined the best student hackers from the UK’s 13 Academic Centres of Excellence (ACE) in Cyber Security Research at the inaugural Inter-ACE Cyberchallenge.

The event took place at the University of Cambridge on Saturday 23 April 2016 and was organised in partnership with Facebook. The competing teams of four came from 10 of the 13 Universities accredited as ACEs under the EPSRC/GCHQ scheme: Imperial College, Queens University Belfast, Royal Holloway University of London, University College London, University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge, University of Kent, University of Oxford, University of Southampton, University of Surrey. Challenges were set and administered by Facebook and competing institutions also submitted optional “guest challenges” for others to solve.

The players competed in a ‘Capture the Flag’ information security competition involving both ‘jeopardy’ style and ‘attack-defence’ style aspects. Game progress was visualized on a world map with teams attempting to conquer and re-conquer world countries by solving associated challenges.

The University of Southampton team performed well throughout the competition, leading for the first half and never falling below second for five hours. The decisive final five minutes put Southampton into third place behind the University of Cambridge and Imperial College.

The team was led by Mohit Gupta, a final year student in MEng Electronic Engineering with Artificial Intelligence and also comprised, Yordan Ganchev (final year BSc Computer Science), Murray Colpman (final year MEng Computer Science), and Kier Davis (first year MEng Electronic Engineering with Computer Systems). Mohit was delighted with the result, saying: “While we were disappointed to not get first place, third is still a great achievement for the team and we look forward to improving upon this result in future years. What was really pleasing was the fantastic response when we asked for people to take part in the competition. There were so many people that we ended up running a selection process.”

Professor Vladimiro Sassone, Director of the University’s Cyber Security Academy, attended as supervisor. He said: "It was a privilege to witness the excitement, passion and commitment of the players, who worked head down for 5 hours without stops. And of course, I am delighted with our results, which goes to show the quality of the work we are doing at the Cyber Security Academy.”

The Inter-ACE Cyberchallenge also featured a competition for individuals from the ACEs. Bronze in this competition also went to a Southampton student, David Young – a final year Maths student who participated remotely.

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