Cybersecurity Program Challenges Students to “Hack” Wireless Network

Mar. 1, 2021
Office of Communications
Photo of a blue-toned padlock superimposed over a microchip to promote a Cybersecurity WiFi hacking challenge at Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts

Assumption teach students cybersecurity techniques and raise awareness

In an effort to boost high school student awareness, interest, and instructional effectiveness of cybersecurity techniques, Assumption University Professor and Director of the University's Center for Cybersecurity Raymond Albert, Ph.D., has developed the inaugural Assumption "WiFi Hacking Capture-the-Flag (CTF) Adventure," which will take place on Saturday, March 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

“Capture the Flag competitions and related events have been a tradition in cybersecurity education for several decades,” said Prof. Albert.  “They are a great way to boost high school student awareness and interest in cybersecurity and to educate students about techniques that can be used to reduce common cybersecurity vulnerabilities.“ In a world where cyber threats posed by hackers continue to grow in number and sophistication, it is more important than ever to attract and properly educate future generations of cybersecurity professionals to combat such threats.” 

According to Prof. Albert, while there are several different cybersecurity CTF competitions, Assumption’s is unique in that it is focused on WiFi hacking in an authentic environment. The secure and remotely accessible CTF environment contains actual WiFi adapters, access points, and connected clients, and presents a number of challenges for the participants to solve. Solutions are represented as ‘flags,’ which are special values hidden inside the environment, and participants must discover the ‘flags’ by employing various defensive WiFi hacking techniques. For example, in one challenge, participants must crack the password that is required to access a WiFi access point. 
“Participants will learn more about cybersecurity, WiFi vulnerabilities, tools commonly used by hackers to exploit such vulnerabilities, how best to reduce such vulnerabilities and secure WiFi networks,” Prof. Albert said. “These events are designed to be both fun and educational experiences for all participants.” 

He added that the University’s “WiFi Hacking CTF Adventure” is modeled on the successful work of Ahmed Ibraham, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems at the University of Pittsburgh.  Assumption cybersecurity students were involved in the testing of the environment, enhancing their cybersecurity knowledge and skills.  

Participation for Assumption’s inaugural CTF event is limited and registration is required. To learn more and register for the event, contact Prof. Albert.

Assumption’s Center for Cybersecurity aims to promote and implement education, research and innovation related to cybersecurity, cyber threats, and cyber defense education through a variety of programming and events. Assumption’s bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is a technology-based program that aligns with the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security standards. Assumption is a member of the National Cybersecurity Training and Education (NCyTE) Center, which provides students and faculty access to a wide range of cutting-edge resources and curriculum that complement and further strengthen Assumption’s cybersecurity program.