Hacking for Security

The iCTF hacking contest taking place since 2003 at the University of Santa Barbara. 88 teams from all over the world joined this year’s competition, the team “We_0Wn_Y0u”, consisting of teachers and students of TU Vienna finished third.

“The Capture-the-Flag-Contest is about intruding in other teams’ servers and protecting your own server at the same time”, explains Markus Kammerstetter, head of iSecLab Security-Labs (Automation Systems Group) at TU Vienna. All teams were assigned their servers on Friday evening and had to start to search for possible security flaws immediately to protect their own servers and attack others. “Such competitions are not just games, they are a great opportunity for the best of our 400 students to apply the knowledge they gained from our courses on ‘Internet Security’ and ‘Advanced Internet Security'”, says Kammerstetter. “If security is at stake, you need a lot of knowhow, you need to keep track of a lot of details, and sometime you need to be really fast.”

The team of TU Vienna joined the competitin already for the seventh time and always ended up at least among the top five. Two times (2006 and 2011) the team won the competition and qualified for the DefCon CTF contest in Las Vegas, which is considered as the worlds’ most difficult hacker contest.

Kammerstetter: “We’re very happy that we made it again. Internet security is an exciting research area, and it’s very important for the industry. With our success, we prove that we educate excellent students who can apply their knowledge practically. For the future, I wish that we can continues this – and that the funding for our research and teaching improves…”

Computer Science in Austria – Data from a first Call

Seven Austrian universities teach computer science in in total 83 courses.
The largest course is Software & Information Engineering at the Technical University of Vienna with 1710 students. The currently smallest course is Bioinformatics at the University of Linz with 16 students.
The research areas comprise some classical areas like software engineering, visual computing and research on parallel and distributed systems, more application oriented topics like Aerospace Research in Salzburg an reach up to areas that – at the first glance – don’t really sound like computer science at all. As an example, biomedical engineering was just recently transferred to the Faculty of Informations an the Technical University Graz.
That’s only one of many indicators, that computer science is becoming more and more a crucial element in other sciences rather than just a tool.

Another indicator for the diversity of computer science may be seen in the gender equality of students. The most male class is Scientific Computing at the University Vienna with over 91 percent of male students. On the other side, almost half of the students at the Didactics of Computer Science class at the University of Vienna are female. The overall ratio of male and feamle students is 80:20 – computer science is more female than other technical studies.

This overview was part of the first media seminar of informatik_austria. Other topics were an overview on Software Engineering and Verifictaion research by Roderick Bloem, and a crash course on Visual Computing by Werner Purgathofer.

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Universities as the soil for start-ups

Stanford University has prepared the ground for Silicon Valley. And that’s not an isolated case: „Innovation hubs don’t work on the long run if there are no research- and education-institutions close“, states Eva Winroither in the Austrian daily newspaper „Die Presse“. 
The article mentions a few examples for cooperation between austrian universities and companies, among them the new founders program that’s  currently being prepared as a cooperation between the Pioneers Festival and the Institute for Software Technology and Interactive Systems at the Technical University of Vienna. Another example is the vision of the IT Quarter Vienna as an integrated innovation campus, that should settler start-ups close to the university to foster cooperation.
Read the full article at diepresse.com