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Dr Jennifer Cobbe to give Science Festival talk on Thursday 14th March

The public sphere in the age of the algorithm

Thursday 14 March: 7:30pm – 8:30pm, Mill Lane Lecture Rooms

In recent years the internet has become a key battleground for electoral politics. Dr Jennifer Cobbe examines how surveillance capitalism and the increasingly algorithmic nature of online public space allows the public sphere and the democratic process to be manipulated by microtargeted political advertising, disinformation, and political bots.

Dr Jennifer Cobbe is a researcher in the Compliant and Accountable Systems Group in the Department of Computer Science and Technology at the University of Cambridge. Jennifer is also the Coordinator of Cambridge’s Trust and Technology Initiative, which explores the dynamics of trust and distrust around internet technologies, societies, and power. Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach to look at the impact of the use of new and emerging technologies in the areas of public law, human rights, surveillance, privacy, and data protection.

For more information and to book a place

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Cambridge students earn silver in national cyber security challenge

HECC (Higher Education Cyber Challenge) is a cross-university cybersecurity/CTF competition run by the University of Southampton – following in the footsteps of the Inter-ACE challenge launched by the University of Cambridge’s ACE-CSR in 2016 and hosted there for three years.

The first edition of HECC was held on Saturday 9th March 2019, at Southampton’s Highfield Campus. Eleven students in three teams made the trip from Cambridge to take part, calling themselves ‘cryptographic_randomness’, ‘Cam Power Unlimited’ and ‘NP Compete’

A total of 26 teams competed, from universities across the country. Congratulations go to NP Compete (Chris Underhill, Simon Crane, Dimitrije Erdeljan and Patryk Balicki) who took 2nd place with 44700 points – narrowly beaten to the top spot by team ’0×434343′ from Cardiff University. After hanging around 3rd/4th position for most of the competition, NP Compete accelerated towards the end of the day and overtook team ‘EmpireCTF’ from Imperial College London to claim the silver medal – and a large cash prize.

The competition was jeopardy-style, with challenges covering a wide range of topics, including reverse engineering, forensics, web exploits and packet sniffing. Most were written by students and academic staff from Southampton University, with the rest provided by the competition’s sponsors. Interesting challenges included an NFC problem solving task that involved scanning the lanyards of other teams to get clues for a flag, and a challenge that involved exploiting an automated VoIP call system to run shell commands.

All competitors received a free lunch and enforced breaks from hacking to rehydrate. After the competition ended, the teams had dinner, during which the results were announced and prizes given, followed by a chance to network with organisers and fellow students.

Overall, HECC was an extremely well planned and enjoyable CTF. It was an amazing experience for all of the Cambridge teams. We look forward to next year’s HECC, when maybe Cambridge will take home the first prize.

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Success for Cambridge in the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

The triumphant Cambridge team

The triumphant Cambridge team

Gary Dreyer, Ainsley Katz, Jamie MacColl and Tomass Pildegovics won first place in a national cyber competition, the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. The four Cambridge MPhil students in International Relations and Politics were sponsored by Cambridge’s Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research. Professor Frank Stajano, head of the ACE-CSR, was delighted to cover their expenses and, more importantly, to put them in touch with a tech-savvy mentor, ACE-CSR member Dr Jat Singh, who has a multi-disciplinary background in both computer science and law.

The Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is a competition designed to identify and foster the next generation of policy and strategy leaders for the cyber security challenges of the future. These competitions take place internationally (Austin, Lille, London, Washington, Geneva, and Sydney), but our students attended the event in London.

In the competition, teams take on the role of senior advisors to government Ministers in responding to an evolving cyber attack. Over two days, the scenario evolves through three rounds with a grand finale in front of senior UK cyber security experts. The competition is multidisciplinary in nature, allowing those with a non-technical background to test the waters of both cyber security and policymaking. The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge underscores the importance of blended learning and cross-sectoral coordination that are critical to cyber security. This, in turn, emphasizes the value of a diverse and innovative cyber-security workforce.

This kind of policy-oriented cyber competition is a valuable complement to the more technology-oriented hacking challenges that the Cambridge ACE-CSR founded and ran in previous years, the national-level Inter-ACE and the international Cambridge 2 Cambridge.

Team CamPhishing placed first out of seventeen teams from various UK universities. Its members are now considering cyber as a potential future career.

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Alastair Beresford receives Google Security and Privacy Research award

Dr Alastair Beresford, Reader in Computer Security, has received a 2018 Google Security and Privacy Research award.

Dr Beresford’s research examines the security and privacy of large-scale networked computer systems.

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Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, 1927–2018

The Department was saddened by the death of Professor Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer Bt KBE FRS, on 26 December 2018, at the age of 91.

Sir Peter was a renowned mathematician specialising in number theory, the advanced study of the relationships and properties of numbers. He is best known for his part in the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture which he developed with Professor Bryan Birch FRS in the 1960s, and for his work on the Titan operating system, the successor at the Cambridge Computer Laboratory to the EDSAC2, on which he carried out the computations with Bryan Birch.

He later described himself on occasions as a computer scientist masquerading as a pure mathematician.

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New Active Directory domain DC.CL.CAM.AC.UK

The department is migrating from an old Active Directory domain to a new one. If you are still using somewhere the domain/realm/NetBIOS names of the old one, please check the current documentation and change to the new one accordingly:

  Old Kerberos realm name: AD.CL.CAM.AC.UK
  Old NetBIOS domain name: CL.CAM.AC.UK

  New Kerberos realm name: DC.CL.CAM.AC.UK
  New NetBIOS domain name: DC

Places where you may be using these names:

  • kinit command lines
  • MIT Kerberos Ticket Manager
  • /etc/krb5.conf files (especially default_realm entries)
  • Windows login screens

(The old AD domain had used dots in its NetBIOS name, which is no longer recommended in current naming conventions and can cause compatibility problems. This change has nothing to do with renaming the department.)

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slogin-new and slogin-old DNS names removed

The transitional DNS names slogin-new and slogin-old have been removed now that the slogin-serv system is believed stable, to ensure that nobody is still relying on them.

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DeepMind Scholarships

DeepMind scholarships are now available for support candidates intending to study for the M.Phil in Advanced Computer Science. Eligibility requirements and further details are available. The closing date scholarship applications for October 2019 entry will be 31st March 2019.

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Cambridge team wins the 2018 Northwestern Europe Regional Contest

Congratulations to Team Treenity, winners of The 2018 Northwestern Europe Regional Contest.

NWERC 2018 is an official regional contest in the International Collegiate Programming Contest. It draws students from colleges and universities throughout Belgium, Luxembourg, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.

Team Treenity will now advance to the ICPC World Finals which take place in Porto in 2019.

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