Seidenberg Peer Mentoring Program goes into its second year

The Seidenberg community was delighted to kick off the second year of our student mentoring program on Wednesday, September 6, 2017. When the program first began last year, we saw great success as senior students took incoming Seidenberg majors under their wings to help navigate the Seidenberg – and Pace University – experience.

Now in its second year, the program has seen a swell in new and returning students flocked back to meet one another and grow our Seidenberg family. The program aims to help new students settle into life at Pace, learn about how Seidenberg and the University operates, and meet new friends. For experienced students who are mentoring our n00bs, they learn how to provide guidance to new students and valuable skills that are extremely useful in the working world.

Director of Recruitment and Retention and Academic Advisor Stephanie Elson led the welcome presentation, which laid out the expectations of both mentors and mentees – including the requirement to take as many pictures as possible! #SeidenbergSelfie!

Our newest advisor on the NYC campus, Matt Brown, also welcomed the students. “Your relationship as mentees and mentors is about teamwork,” Matt said, emphasizing the community aspect of the program. “You all are part of a greater community, and individually you bring something great to this team.”

Matt also touched on one of our greatest assets here at Pace – “Pace is a global community with people from different backgrounds – be supportive, be non-judgmental.”

New students also got to meet community manager Olga Bogomolova, who welcomed them to the program and reminded them to take care of our space and each other.

The Seidenberg Peer Mentoring program is one of our points of pride. If you’ve been through our doors, you know that community is everything to Seidenberg, so we are delighted to see such a robust cohort of students entering and returning to the program this year.

We can’t wait to see how our mentors and mentees do! Welcome and welcome back to all of you!

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!

Celebrating our new PhD graduate, Dr Md Liakat Ali

The Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems’ PhD in Computer Science program has been seeing a lot of success recently! Although still a young program, we are starting to see our talented PhD students who enrolled near the very beginning achieving their goals. We are very proud to announce the successful dissertation defenses by new PhD Dr. Md Liakat Ali!

“The last three years of my life at Pace University have taught me so many things,” said Dr. Ali. “On the very first day at Pace, I got an email from Dr. Charles C. Tappert for Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning class. At the end of email, there was a quote: ‘If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research.’ – Einstein. Dr. Tappert, my supervisor, a wonderful professor and an expertise in biometric areas . . . inspired me in so many ways to complete my PhD.”

Dr. Ali’s dissertation, “A Hybrid Generative/Discriminative Approach to Machine Learning Problems with Application to Keystroke Biometrics,” involved the design and implementation of a novel method for tackling machine learning problems that worked to increase security using keystoke biometrics. The way we interact with our devices gives clues to who we are: how we swipe screens, the pressure we exert, the speed with which we type; all of this can be used as identifying factors that can be used to further secure our devices and digital accounts.

Currently, Dr. Ali is a Computer Science professor at Caldwell University, NJ, and is committed to continuing to pass on his knowledge in the classroom. “[M]y goals are to teach IT courses with most advanced theory and practical application, making students’ enthusiastic for advancement in technology and increasing their opportunity. I would like to continue teaching and research in Computer Science.”

Dr. Charles Tappert, Dr. Md Liakat Ali, Dr. Lixin Tao, and Dr. Li-Chiou Chen

He has published more than 20 international conference and journal papers, including at IEEE conferences on Smart Cloud, Cybersecurity and Cloud Computing, and Big Data Security on Cloud.

Fellow PhD student Avery Leider attended Ali’s defense. “What was awesome about Liakat Ali’s PhD Dissertation is that he continued research that was done earlier by the first PhD of the Computer Science PhD program at Pace University, John Vincent “Vinnie” Monaco, who did groundbreaking work in user authentication using the biometrics of how a person types on the keyboard. Vinnie now works as a Computer Scientist at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. Ali used that research, and went farther than Vinnie did, making this closer to being able to be used every day. Ali and Vinnie were both students of Dr. Tappert, who advised them on their PhD dissertations because that is work that he has been interested in for years. Maybe Pace University will become famous for keystroke biometrics!”

Pace GenCyber brings cybersecurity to high school classrooms for the third year

Pace University’s GenCyber teacher workshop has completed its third year! The NSA and NSF-funded program, organized and run by the Seidenberg School, took place from July 13-21 and involved a wonderful cohort of high school teachers from across the nation attending lectures, discussions, lab exercises and activities pertaining to topics in cybersecurity.

Twenty-three high school teachers attended the Pace University Pleasantville campus to learn fundamental cybersecurity concepts and to study new resources and methods to facilitate integration of cybersecurity material into their class curricula or after-school activities.

Workshop participants were introduced to cybersecurity first principles, cryptography, web security, access control, biometrics, and cybersecurity analytics. The curriculum, designed and delivered by Seidenberg faculty and staff, was based on a combination of interpersonal, intrapersonal and kinesthetic learning activities that aimed to ensure participants got the most from their time at Pace University.

The GenCyber program is part of Seidenberg’s outreach efforts to infuse STEM and cybersecurity education into high school classrooms. As a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, Pace strives to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals for the challenges of the future. Through programs like GenCyber, Pace University supports teachers across the country in teaching the fundamentals to their students.

GenCyber participant Ron Conwell, who teaches Career and Technical Education at Clarkson Community School is Clarkston, MI, said: “Of the professional development experiences I have been to, this rises to the top just based on the amount of student engagement experiences that we were able to participate and engage in. We got to actually use [Raspberry] Pis, actually do the labs, and engage in the experiences ourselves rather than have to focus on just taking notes while other people talked.”

Ed McGinnis, who teaches Computer Science at St. George’s School in Newport, RI, agreed. “There were lots of resources and lots of info received. We were given links and tangible things to take home to use immediately in the classroom.”

Andreea Cotoranu, Assistant Dean of Academic Innovation and program director said that “through Pace GenCyber we aim to educate high school teachers about cybersecurity. Curricula taught in high schools is particularly well suited for integration of cybersecurity, since cybersecurity problems can often be reduced to the fundamentals of mathematics and computer science.

“Through the Pace GenCyber curriculum, we not only teach cybersecurity, but we also showcase the connections between cybersecurity topics and the participants’ teaching disciplines, as well as provide the tools needed to infuse the material into the classroom. Pace GenCyber is more than just a summer workshop, it is a community of faculty, students, teachers, alumni, government and corporate leaders who contribute to shaping the future of cybersecurity.”

GenCyber is made possible through funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency. The 2017 Pace University GenCyber program was designed and administered by Andreea Cotoranu (Program Director) and Dr. Li-Chiou Chen (Lead Instructor), with teaching support from Seidenberg School faculty Dr. Charles Tappert, Dr. Yegin Genc, and computer science high school teacher Jigar Jadav (Mamaroneck High School). Credit is also due to Barbara Woodworth and Jill Olimpieri, as well as Seidenberg students Tianyu Wang, Elizabeth Molloy, Kaitlyn Bestenheider, Steven Porras and Tristan Still. ​

Unveiling the Seidenberg School’s first ever cyberdefense course with the ACCA

Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, supported by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), will train finance professionals in cybersecurity and cyber defense in August this year.

The course – Foundations of Cyber Defense for Accounting – was announced after Pace University’s recent designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE). It will take place on Pace’s Lower Manhattan campus and is taught by Dr. James Gabberty, a seasoned Information and Communication Technology practitioner with more than 30 years’ experience in academia and industry.

Pace University worked to build the course’s contents in order to address the increasing cybersecurity crisis that affects every country. A 2016 ACCA report deemed cybercrime too dangerous and powerful to ignore; the Seidenberg School has for many years now trained new cybersecurity professionals to combat the growing threat.

The course will take place on August 4. Interested in attending? Register!

Read the full press release about Pace University’s new cyber defense for accounting course.

Pace Cyber Team racks up points in the 2017 National Cyber League

By Kaitlyn Bestenheider

Throughout the entire month of April 2017, the Pace University Cyber Team competed in the National Cyber League’s first ever spring season competition. The National Cyber League (NCL) started in May 2011 as a platform to “provide an ongoing virtual training ground for participants to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills using next-generation high-fidelity simulation environments.”

The Pace Cyber Team definitely validated their knowledge! In this capture-the-flag style offensive and defensive security competition, each participant had to show proficiency and excellence in all nine of the following categories:

  • Cryptography
  • Enumeration and Exploitation
  • Log Analysis
  • Network Traffic Analysis
  • Open Source Intelligence
  • Password Cracking
  • Scanning
  • Web Application Exploitation
  • Wireless Access Exploitation
Pace Cyber Team: progress as they battled in the final hours of the post-season team competition

Most team members placed individually in either the silver or the coveted gold brackets of the competition going up against the best of the best nationwide. Of the over 2000 competitors only the top 15% will compete in the gold bracket, while the following 35% will make it to silver. This season, 1,891 students/players and 269 faculty/ coaches from 291 two- and four-year schools in 43 U.S. states registered to play in the Preseason/Regular Season.

The Pace Cyber Team also went on to compete in the Silver Bracket of the post-season team competition where they ranked 11th overall in their bracket and placed 27th nationally out of 152 teams from over 108 college/universities in 35 states. The team scored 2,635 points and captured 121 of the challenge flags. For comparison purposes, the national average for this competition was only 1,655 points and just 83 flags.

Pace Cyber Team: 2017 NCL Post Season Extravaganza in Goldstein 321

Even more remarkable, the Pace Cyber Team ranked 1st in their bracket and 4th overall in Wireless Access Exploitation. In addition, the team placed 6th in the silver bracket and 14th overall in Network Traffic Analysis, and 8th in their bracket and 16th overall in Cryptography. Moreover, the team ranked among the top 25 teams in the silver bracket for every challenge category.

Team Captain Kaitlyn Bestenheider said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better team to compete with. We were all strong competitors and had a wide variety of skills. Everyone communicated fantastically, which made it easy for me to share information and delegate tasks to the person whose skills were best suited to the challenge at hand. Our team’s real strength was in its variety of experience and expertise levels. I look forwarded to training and competing again next semester.”

The team competing in the 2017 NCL post-season included:

Kaitlyn Bestenheider (MS/CS ’18), Adriana Aluia (BS/IT ’17), Cesar Castro (BS/IT ’18), Michael Gabriel (BS/IT ’19), Andrew Ku (BS/IS ’20), Norissa Lamaute (MS/CS’17), Benjamin Longobardi (BS/CS’19), and Gabriel Rivera (BS/IT’17).

Congratulations to all for a great performance this season!

The Pace Cyber Team would like to welcome anyone with an interest in cybersecurity to train and compete with us in the 2017 fall season. Contact Andreea Cotoranu, Assistant Dean for Academic Innovation (acotoranu@pace.edu) with questions.

Some of the Pace Cyber Team (January 2017) – back row L to R: Adriana Aluia, Michael Tantalos, Benjamin Longobardi, Andrew Ku, Gabriel Rivera, Mark Rolon, John Guckian; front row: Norissa Lamaute

Want to read more? Check out Kaitlyn Bestenheider’s blog, Kait Tech, for further coverage of the event.

Thanks so much to team captain Kaitlyn for writing this student blog post!