27 November 2020
12 July 2018
CUHK Engineering Teams Win Championship in Two Hong Kong Hacking Competitions

Cybercrime has been on the rise in recent years and become an important global issue. More IT professionals are needed to ensure a secure internet. Students from the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Science at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) formed a team called “g33z” which has won championships in two hacking competitions; one of them run by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the region’s biggest four accounting firms, and the other hosted by the international hacker conference VXCON in Hong Kong. This was the second consecutive year a CUHK team pooled their information security skills to win in the PwC HackaDay.   

As the second annual hacking competition for Hong Kong undergraduate students, the PwC HackaDay drew a total of nine teams from five local universities to participate in a six-hour hacking session for various kinds of challenges ranging from network, web, binary to the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular, IoT was a new area which required students to hack a robotic model car and an electronic lighting device using programme language. The team “g33z” won the contest by completing most challenges within the specific time and demonstrated outstanding organisation skills and a good level of knowledge of cybersecurity.

The team also won the championship in the VXCTF 2018, a Capture-the-Flag (CTF) hacking contest hosted by the international hacker conference VXCON in Hong Kong. During the competition, participants were required to exercise different skillsets in web, cryptography, reverse engineering, forensic, binary exploitation and smart contract.  A total of eleven teams from four tertiary institutions joined the competition.

The winning team was comprised of four undergraduates from the Computer Science and Engineering, Information Engineering, and Mathematics Departments. With a keen interest in programming design and cybersecurity topics, they immersed themselves in workshops, hackathons, and meet-ups of the CUHK Open Innovation Lab (OIL) which is a self-initiated student group that actively promotes open technology on campus. The students’ participation in OIL activities and their eagerness to adopt new approaches enabled them to learn beyond boundaries and gain extensive knowledge of open technology, internet engineering and cybersecurity from alumni and experts. In spite of the short history and small scale, OIL has organised nearly 80 tech talks and workshops for over 550 participants so far.

The winning team are thrilled with both the prize award from VXCON, and also the full time job opportunities offered by the PwC Hong Kong and China Cybersecurity and Privacy Team. Shing Yuet LEUNG and Cham Fei TONG will start their career with the PwC team in September this year while Siu Chun CHAN will be working as a web engineer in a private firm. Yihui ZENG will be heading to the Security Lab of the University of California, Santa Barbara for an internship, and has a chance to work with the famous hacking team Shellphish.

Prof. Wing Cheong LAU, the team supervisor and Associate Professor of the Department of Information Engineering said, “CUHK was the first Hong Kong university to offer the undergraduate programme in information engineering. For many years we have nurtured and educated many engineering professionals for the information world, and prepared them well for future challenges. Cybersecurity has been a key specialised stream for our students, which includes applied cryptography, web programming and security, digital forensics, and security and privacy in cyber systems. We encourage them to apply what they learn and enhance the public awareness of this issue through different events, and we are proud that our professorial staff are working hard on cybersecurity research to make Hong Kong a better place where safety, security and privacy are strengthened.”

CUHK team wins for the second consecutive year the PwC HackaDay.
(From left) Yihui ZENG, Siu Chun CHAN, Shing Yuet LEUNG and Cham Fei TONG.

(From 2nd left) Cham Fei TONG from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Yihui ZENG from the Department of Mathematics, and Shing Yuet LEUNG from the Department of Information Engineering beat the other ten teams from four tertiary institutions to win the championship in the VXCTF 2018.

During the thirty-hour non-stop VXCON competition, the CUHK team exercises different skillsets in web, cryptography, reverse engineering, forensic, binary exploitation and smart contract.