Two UAH graduate students take first place in prestigious embedded security challenge

Thiago Rishabh

UAH Ph.D. cybersecurity students Thiago Alves (left) and Rishabh Das (right) present their prize-winning submission - a machine-learning intrusion prevention system embedded inside an open-source programmable logic controller - to judge Ryan Craven (center) at the North American Embedded Security Challenge at the 14th annual Cyber Security Awareness Week.

Credit: CSAW

When Thiago Alves and Rishabh Das, two cybersecurity Ph.D. students at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), placed first in the North American Embedded Security Challenge this past November, they were both in a state of shock. Not only was the competition tough, says Das, but a forgotten laptop charger also meant that their demonstration at the 14th annual Cyber Security Awareness Week (CSAW) in New York City "did not go as planned." As a result, says Alves, "we really didn’t think we’d win."

Fortunately, however, the originality and complexity of their proposal – and their ability to successfully articulate it ­– prevailed, earning them a $1,000 cash prize and medals in honor of their victory. "The judges had a keen interest in the technology that we developed, and they really wanted to understand how the system worked," says Das. "So it was already a winning experience. First prize was just the icing on the cake."

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