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University of Nebraska to host cybersecurity ‘hackathon’

April 2, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The University of Nebraska at Omaha will be hosting a 48-hour cybersecurity “hackathon.”

Participants will form teams to create and pitch proposals about enhancing the cybersecurity of physical systems to a panel of judges, including military officials from U.S. Strategic Command, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

Teams will compete for $15,000 in prizes and the opportunity to pursue their plan with mentorship from MD5, a technology accelerator program launched by the Department of Defense and several universities.

The event will also take place at the University of Colorado in Boulder. About 100 people are expected to attend at the two campuses Friday through Sunday.

“We hope to have a variety of individuals,” said Robin Gandhi, an associate professor of cybersecurity at the University of Nebraska who’s helping coordinate the hackathon. “Even if you don’t have experience in the topic, you can bring a fresh perspective.”

Private-sector workers with an interest in technology are invited to participate, along with people with backgrounds in finance, engineering and computer science, Gandhi said.

Cybersecurity of physical systems is a growing field now that computers have linked up systems originally designed to stand alone, according to Gandhi. He said companies and military installations face issues with networks vulnerable to hacking. Such a network could be a mobile app that controls a home’s lights, burglar alarms and kitchen appliances, though companies and military groups face these problems on a larger scale.

John Pyrovolakis is founder and director of the UNO-based Innovation Accelerator Foundation. He hopes the hackathon draws enough interest and funding to turn it into an annual event, which could persuade students to pursue post-college careers with the military.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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