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TAR UC Students Hack Their Way to Champion

October 18, 2019 | Campus News

The winning team from TAR UC at the APU Battle of Hackers 2019 competition, comprising (from left) Chuah Seong Rong, Wong Yik Han and Cheow Jia Jian

In a battle of wits and skills, three Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (‘TAR UC’) students hacked their way to emerge as champions at the Battle of Hackers 2019 contest organised by Asia Pacific University. The students namely Chuah Seong Rong (Bachelor of Computer Science (Hons) in Software Engineering student), Wong Yik Han and Cheow Jia Jian (both are the Bachelor of Information Technology (Hons) in Information Security students), put to good use their technical knowledge and brainpower to decrypt all the challenges to win the top prize.

In the Battle of Hackers competition, contestants were required to break down the files or programmes provided in order to find the “flag”, which comprised a string text with formatting. Contestants had to use their steganography, cryptography, forensics and penetration testing skills to gain points. The team with the highest points would be the winner.

20 teams from 14 universities fought it out in a fierce competition during the final round held on 3 October 2019 but TAR UC team took the lead after 2 hours into the competition, and managed to beat the odds to become overall victors after 6 strenuous hours of cracking and hacking codes. For their efforts, they took home RM4,000 as prize money.

“We were a bit slow at the beginning of the competition, but we kept on trying different techniques until we reached the top position. The will to succeed and our team spirit motivated us to do our best and ultimately win the competition,” Jia Jian shared the secret of the team’s success. “We put in a lot of hard work into learning and understanding all the necessary knowledge and it all paid off when we finally won.”

“The great teamwork and the camaraderie that existed between the three of us enabled us to achieve this win,” said Seong Rong. “I believe that if you want to go far, you have to put in the necessary hard work. For those who are interested in joining competitions like this, my advice to them is to push yourself to the limit, because you will never know how far you can go until you give it your best shot.”

Yik Han, who previously won a bronze medal in the International Computer Driving License (‘ICDL’) Asia Digital Challenge 2018, an international competition that tests students from the Asian region on their ICT skills, said that he prepared for the Battle of Hackers by pre-planning his strategy a few days before the contest. “This competition is drastically different from the ICDL Digital Challenge. For this competition, I prepared by participating in similar competitions online to gain as much experience as I could. I also got into the right frame of mind and came up with alternative options on what to do if I run out of ideas during the competition,” he said. Yik Han credited his lecturer with guiding him well for this competition. “I would also like to thank our lecturer, Mr Lim Kong Hua, for providing guidance by hosting a workshop for us before the competition, which enabled us to be better prepared to face the challenges.”

Yik Han also had some words of advice for those who would like to follow in his team’s footsteps. “If you keep practising, you will gain more experience along the way. With enough experience, you can identify what is required and this will prepare you better for future challenges.”

The team also spoke about their aspirations for the future. “I would like to continue exploring the field of cyber-security and I hope to inspire other students to succeed in this area,” Jia Jian said while Seong Rong and Yik Han would want to enhance their hacking skills by joining similar upcoming competitions.

Prof Ir Dr Lee Sze Wei, President of TAR UC, also complimented the students on their victory. “I am proud to hear that the team ably applied their knowledge and ingenuity to pave the way to success. I believe this win will inspire other students to shine in many more competitions to come,” he said.

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