DEF CON 25: Seidenberg edition

by Kait Bestenheider

On Wednesday, July 26, eight Seidenberg students from both NYC and Pleasantville campuses traveled across the country to attend one of the world’s largest hacking conventions, DEF CON, in Las Vegas. The conference offered talks, workshops, and industry connections, the quality of which cannot be matched elsewhere.

The group pictured below consisted of Adriana Aluia (BS Information Technology), Kaitlyn Bestenheider (MS Information Systems), Brandon DeLuca (BS Computer Science), Siobhan Kiernan (MS Computer Science), Andrew Ku (BS Information Systems), Benjamin Longobardi (BS Computer Science), Connor McGee (BS Computer Science), and Elizabeth Molloy (BS Information Systems and Cybersecurity).

From left to right: Ben Longobardi, Andrew Ku, Brandon DeLuca, Connor Magee, Elizabeth Molloy, Siobhan Kiernan, Kaitlyn Bestenheider, Adriana Aluia.

Each student had their own unique experiences. They were able to attend all of the following workshops in the four short days of the conference.

  • Applied Physical Attacks on Embedded Systems, Introductory Version
  • Subverting Privacy Exploitation Using HTTP
  • Building Application Security Automation with Python
  • Windows POST Exploitation
  • Penetration Testing in a Hostile Environment
  • UAC Bypasses in Win7/8/10

“DEF CON was really cool. The speakers, workshops, and talks we’re all super diverse,” says Andrew Ku, “I picked up things that I didn’t know I was going to pick up until I saw there was a village for it. But by far, interacting with other human beings was the highlight of my Def Con experience.”

Connor Magee agreed, stating, “Being able to pick the minds of some of the smartest people within the information security industry was a phenomenal experience!”

Two students were even able to present content that they had created at R00tz Asylum. R00tz is one of many villages featured at DEF CON, but unlike most other villages (see Crypto and Privacy Village, Lock Picking Village, Packet Hacking Village’s Wall of Sheep, and more), R00tz is dedicated to security aficionados age 6-16.

Kaitlyn Bestenheider and Elizabeth Molloy were asked by some of the organizers at Cryptography and Privacy Village if the material they created for Pace University’s GenCyber program could be used for their R00tz program. The girls were able to attend the “kids only” village to help present their material. Both girls cited it as the highlight of their DEF CON experience. Kaitlyn wrote about her experiences leading the workshop on her personal blog, Kait Tech – check it out!

But who was supervising Lizzie and Kait?

Brandon DeLuca summed up the overall experience well. “DEF CON, above all learning activities and interaction, was a motivating experience; you really learn a lot about unexplored topics in the area of study. Understanding just how skilled others are in their respective fields makes you want to push yourself even harder to learn and become the best.”

“It was kind of cool seeing the culture behind the stuff I’ve been learning about in school,” said Ben Longbardi.

To learn more about each of the students’ experiences, join us at the (WIT@Pace) meeting on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017, for their “DEFCON Redux” event. Register for the WIT event here!


Thanks to Kaitlyn Bestenheider for covering DEF CON! We will have another student blog from Kait about her experience in the R00tz workshop soon!

Pace University receives Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education designation at National Cyber Summit

Pace University, through the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, became one of the country’s few Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) with a new designation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

The designation, which was earned following a rigorous examination of our School’s academics and research, replaces our previous title of Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

Dean Jonathan Hill and Dr Li-Chiou Chen, chair of the information technology department, traveled to the 9th Annual National Cyber Summit in Huntsville, Alabama, to accept the designation. The conference is an annual gathering of industry, government, and academic institutions in the area of cybersecurity education.

Dr Hill and Dr Chen received the designation from Dr Leonard T. Reinsfelder, Commandant of the National Cryptologic School at the National Security Agency, and Mr Daniel Stein, the Acting Branch Cybersecurity Education and Awareness in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security.

Dr Chen directs the Seidenberg Cybersecurity Education and Research Lab alongside Assistant Dean for Academic Innovation Andreea Cotoranu. The lab aims to address the acute shortage of cybersecurity and information assurance professionals in industry by focusing on education, research, and partnerships with academic, industry, and government.

See the press release on our new designation.

Melanie Greene and Dr. James Lawler present inclusion programs for students with disabilities

By Melanie Greene

It was an honor to attend  the Faculty Resource Network’s National Symposium in Atlanta in November. I co-presented with Dr. James Lawler on inclusion programs for students with disabilities in the Seidenberg School. I spoke about the class I took with Dr. Lawler (CIS 102w Web Design for a Not-for-Profit Organization), mentoring students in AHRC’s junior high school and high school programs (they had different levels of autism; one was more severe than the other), mentoring and tutoring Adil Sanai, tutoring his students last semester in his two CIS 102w courses, the two research projects we worked on together, and being a co-moderator for the Disability Film Festival. I got the chance to speak about all of my experiences that I have had working with people with disabilities.

I am uplifted and inspired by Dr. Lawler’s drive and commitment to give people with disabilities access to a college education. I support everything that he is doing.​ I get very emotional talking about all the adventures and learning experiences I have had with Dr. Lawler – they have been life changing opportunities that affect me deeply.

During the conference, we went to three different schools: Morehouse College (an all-male college where Dr. Martin Luther King went), Spelman College (all-female college), and Clark Atlanta University (co-ed).  All of the schools were beautiful, it was a privilege to visit them. I got choked up when we went to Morehouse College because Dr. King went there. I felt like I was walking through history. At the school they had a picture of President Obama delivering the Commencement speech in 2013 and I was in awe: both President Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King’s presences were there.

At the conference, I got the chance to meet other professors from schools  in NY, Atlanta, Hawaii, and others. I enjoyed listening to their research and learning about how we could use social media and technology platforms to teach millennials.

Dr. Lawler and I went to a delicious Italian restaurant one night and a Brazilian restaurant (it was my first time going to a Brazilian restaurant). We invited a professor from Spelman College that I met to join us for dinner, which was a lot of fun. One night our bus broke down which was an experience in itself. The bus was literally like the engine that could. When we broke down one professor started to play Bob Marley “Don’t Worry” and we all chimed in – it was priceless. The bus kept trying to get us all back to the hotel, but unfortunately it failed. We had to walk back to the hotel. On our final day we visited the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. I was overwhelmed with emotion, I had the chills the whole time – history was brought to life. To walk where Dr. King walked, to stand in the area where he preached in Ebenezer Baptist Church, to see the pole in the firehouse where he played on as a child, and lastly to see his grave was indescribable.

My favorite part of the trip was having the privilege to present with Dr. Lawler.  This certainly is a weekend that I will never forget. I thank Dr. Lawler and the Seidenberg School for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference. I will always cherish the incredible memories from this trip.

Seidenberg hits the 2016 Women in Cybersecurity Conference

twoAs a student in the Seidenberg School you have ample opportunities for professional and personal development, and adventure! Along these lines, a Seidenberg team attended the 2016 Women in Cybersecurity Conference (WiCyS) in Dallas, TX last week. The team, comprised of amazing students pursuing degrees with a cybersecurity focus, included Alexa Piccoli (MS/CS’16), Norissa Lamaute (MS/CS’17), Siobhan Kiernan (BS/IT’17) and Adriana Aluia (BS/IT’18). In addition, the team also included Lindsay Peckham (AAS/Cybersecurity’17) and Sara DaCosta (AAS/Cybersecurity’18) from Westchester Community College, a Pace Cybersecurity Academic partner.

Not only are women underrepresented in the IT field, but a report sponsored by ISC2 and Booz Allen Hamilton found that in 2013 women made up just 11 percent of global cybersecurity workforce and only nine percent were in senior leadership roles. It is in this context that WiCyS aims to bring together female students, faculty, researchers, and professionals in cybersecurity for knowledge sharing, networking and mentoring. The conference aims to raise awareness about the importance and nature of cybersecurity careers and to generate interest among students to consider cybersecurity as a viable career option.

From left to right: Lindsay Peckham, Alexa Piccoli, Sara DaCosta, Andrea Wright (Bank of America) Adriana Aluia, Siobhan Kiernan, and Norissa Lamaute
From left to right: Lindsay Peckham, Alexa Piccoli, Sara DaCosta, Andrea Wright (Bank of America) Adriana Aluia, Siobhan Kiernan, and Norissa Lamaute

2016 WiCyS had great energy and blended both academic and professional speakers and content. The conference gathered more than 700 attendees! The tech talks included reverse engineering, cyber criminology, perspectives on research, exploit development, cyber-physical system security. Other professional talks covered tools and strategies for education as well as workshops oriented toward specific career tracks in cyber security. A job fair with over 30 prominent employers and numerous “networking socials” provided students with the opportunity to learn specifics about the skills in need in the industry, and in many cases get job offers on the spot.

Here is what the some of the participants had to say about the conference experience:

One take away from the WiCyS conference was the ample opportunity and support for women in cybersecurity. While the statistic showcase the dramatic lack of women in this field, it felt great to be in a place where women in cyber were encouraged to do great things. I really enjoyed the key note speakers from various top companies and felt empowered and driven to one day be at the level they are at. I got to meet many academics and professionals who offered guidance and reassurance that this is what I want to do as a lifelong career. I learned that it is okay to feel confused at times, and that if you keep working hard, you can reach your goals. I was inspired to take on new opportunities and dig deeper into my school work and cyber related topics.

Alexa Piccoli (MS/CS’16)

squiggleLindsay Peckham (AAS/Cybersecurity ‘17, Westchester Community College): There were so many inspiring moments that it’s difficult to choose only one so I would love to share two items that have stuck with me since returning home.

First, the field of cyber security offers everything I desire in a career: technology, cutting-edge ideas, innovations and helping others but there are many specialties within the field that I had to be exposed to and barely understood in the real-world sense.   Personally, the conference offered me a way to navigate the many career opportunities in this field.  Through anecdotes, insightful speeches, networking opportunities and plentiful resources, I spent nearly 3 days putting myself in the shoes of others and thinking about how that career specialty may suit me in the future.

Second, one of my hopes for attending WiCyS was to learn about what other schools are doing for their cyber security clubs.  It’s been one of my passions at WCC to improve and grow our club in meaningful and exciting ways. Attending the “CyberSecurity Club: 101 from Inception to Installment and Beyond” workshop gave me an opportunity to see what other colleges, both community and university, are doing in their clubs.  […] I am very excited for 2016-2017 school year because I think some really neat changes are going to be made!

Many thanks to Dr. Li-Chiou Chen and Andreea Cotoranu for making this experience possible!

squiggle2Are you working on cybersecurity related projects and have an interest in attending the next edition of WiCyS? Submit a research poster or just apply for a scholarship to attend the conference! Contact Andreea Cotoranu for questions related to future participation in this event.

Interested in learning more about cybersecurity? No problem! The Seidenberg School invites you to take cybersecurity courses, join the Pace Cyber Team, or apply for the CyberCorps scholarship program!