UAE students crack cyber security awareness
Drones and car hacking, programming, cyber attacks methods and defensive mechanisms were part of the exercises given to pupils taking part in the electronic systems competition, aimed at raising cyber security awareness.
The UAE Cyber Quest Competition brought together 90 students from 110 mid schools and universities across the UAE.
The four-day event began on Sunday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). The competition seeks to graduate cybersecurity experts who will serve as the country's electronic soldiers and frontline defence - protecting the UAE from any threats - thus providing a unique opportunity for students to learn about data security through varied and interactive educational activities.
The annual event has been organised by the National Electronic Security Authority (NESA). "The UAE Cyber Quest competition provides a number of activities covering numerous cyber security matters which allow large number of students learn and work with each other simultaneously in an interactive environment," said Dr. Mohammed Al Kuwaiti, executive director of NESA.
"The competition also allows students to learn collectively how to monitor and track online, as well as work within a group to enhance team spirit and offer a self-learning environment."
'Digital knowledge is critical'
The students were divided into 30 teams, with three students each.
The contestants compete in many computer networking and information security related challenges, including exercises that require students to hack drones, car hacking, robotics, gaming pods and Social Engineering which manipulates users based on online behaviours and patterns.
The event also involves interactive workshops addressing critical math and encryption when it comes to the safe use of the Internet and programming, which is the first target for cyber attacks. The competition also addresses wireless connectivity to untrusted networks and its dangers.
NESA officials said car and drone hacking were increasing rapidly, with the growth of internet connected devices which pose a threat in the country. "We are in the system of smart government, where everyone is connected online. With the current digital trend, we need to elevate the knowledge of our students in cyber security and electronic systems," said Al Kuwaiti. "Ensuring the safety of the UAE's critical digital infrastructure is a matter of national security and it's important that we train the next generation on how to protect it from cyber criminals." Al Kuwaiti also noted that children use electronic gadgets, including iPads and smartphones so much, that it was important to raise their awareness about cyber crimes for their safety and security.
Food, fun & more
"The competition has taught me many things about the use of various electronic devices," said Reem Harib Al Saifi, an Emirati grade 12 student from the Applied Technology High School in Abu Dhabi.
She and her teammates came up with a Fog Driving Assistant - a device that can be used to alert a motorist about objects in their front or sides during foggy weather conditions. "We came up with the idea after seeing many reports of accidents resulting from poor visibility during fog," said 17-year-old Al Saifi. Her teammate, Wadh Ahmed Al Breiki, 17, said they spent Dh800 to buy materials including sensors, wires, arduino, a motherboard and a display for the project. The winners on the first day of the competition included; Humaid Ibrahim Alzaabi, Mohamed Khalifa Al Marzouqi and Tahseen Bin Taj Islam from FTP Team in first place, second place was awarded to Saif Ahmed Alkaabi, Muktadir Muhammed Mir and Ahmed Hossameldin Attalla from Bitcoin Team, and Saeed Ali Alnaqbi, Ali Nasser Alteneiji and Abdulhamid Sami Badran from IPMI Team in third place.
Winners of the university students' competition will be announced on Monday.