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Area Cyber Security students take part in first ever Mohawk Valley Hackathon

By GARY LIBERATORE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - SUNYIT'S Cyber Security and Information Systems Information Analysis Center was filled with a flurry of activity on Saturday.
 
It was the site of the first ever Mohawk Valley Hackathon.
 
Some Cyber Security students from the host school along with those from Utica College, Mohawk Valley Community College and Herkimer College took part in a friendly competition to promote learning.
 
It was co-coordinated by SUNYIT Computer and Information Science Lecturer Ronny Bull and the head of the Cyber Security program at M.V.C.C., Jake Mihevc.
 
Mihevc says he may have helped coordinate the event, but the design of the competition is that of staff members from the Air Force Research Lab in Rome, "They've designed the assignment in their spare time as a community service."
 
Mihevc says there are other competitions like this around the country, but this one is unique in that it is not pitting each school against the other, "We've mixed in SUNYIT leaders with MVCC students, and HCCC students and Utica College students to distribute the talents so we can all learn.  It's less of a competition and more of a learning experience."
 
The 40 students sat at computers and simply tried to hack into the other team's system to exploit the holes in their computer security.
 
M.V.C.C. Cyber Security student Brian Rondeau says most hackers have no school experience themselves, "People that don't have the schooling for this, can easily teach themselves.  You know, that's why some of the younger kids are so good at this, they have those resources available, they can just sit in front of a computer for eight hours at a time."
 
With stories of security breaches and identity theft in the news basically on a daily basis lately, it's no wonder Cyber Security is such a popular field to get into.
 
Peter Shipman is the SUNYIT Network Security Club President.  He says this is a perfect way to take what you learn in the classroom about Cyber Security and actually put it to the test, "This is the kind of Beta test for everything.  We talked about it briefly in the fall semester.  Somebody brought it up and we said let's just go for it, see what happens."
 

What's happening is gaining a better understanding of how hackers think, and how to build the cyber security needed to keep them out. 

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