SRU’s C2AC to host collaborative cyberspace event, Dec. 4


Man sitting at computer wrokstation

Cybersecurity threats, such as the possibility of a computer hacker compromising voting machines, will be among the topics showcased at an event hosted by Slippery Rock University’s Center for Cybersecurity and Advanced Computing, Dec. 4.

Nov. 30, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Some issues related to cybersecurity can be resolved by updating or protecting a computer user's password, but others are more complex and affect a variety of touchpoints that often go unnoticed. An event at Slippery Rock University will bring to light a variety of cybersecurity issues as students from multiple disciplines will collaborate through debate, case-study presentations and live software demonstrations.

Organized by SRU's Center for Cybersecurity and Advanced Computing, the cyberspace event will take place 12:30-2 p.m., Dec. 4 at Spotts World Culture Building, Room 111.

"This event will raise awareness in areas that the average person wouldn't think about," said John-George Sample, a senior computing major from Corry. "This is more than the common advice of 'You need better passwords,' or 'Don't fall for phishing attempts.' These are issues that are different than the ones we've been thinking about in the context of computing. If we want to put more effort into solving them, we need to make people aware of them."

Sample and Andrew Vilsack, a senior computing major from Observatory, will lead a presentation about cybersecurity and voting machines, based on a project from their Computer Networks class. They will demonstrate how the WinVote voting machines were hacked in Virginia before they were decommissioned in 2015. WinVote machines were compromised and allowed hackers to change an entire database of votes through a single point of entry, such as a USB port. Sample and Vilsack will then describe how Blockchain technology can thwart cyber-attacks by making them easily detectible through a distributed ledger and requiring hackers to conduct massive computing efforts to modify data.

"We get to take a new concept and apply it to a major social issue with ground-breaking technology," said Sample, who was surprised by how something as important as voting machines can be susceptible to cybersecurity threats. "We'll have a few computers set up where people can click to vote then show how a malicious person can modify that. We want it to be visual so you can see what's happening. That's a very unique part of this event; it will not just be seeing papers and posters, you're going to actually interact with some of these projects."

John-George Sample


Through a series of three-minute presentations, 10 teams of two students from SRU computing classes will present projects, ranging from cybersecurity topics such as drone hacking to protecting servers, programs and networks. Students from a University seminar class will engage in a debate about how emotional intelligence relates to cybersecurity breaches. The event will conclude with the opportunity for attendees to discuss projects with the individual teams.

Any industry that transmits personal data, from banking to health care, is susceptible to cybersecurity threats. More than 60 students representing majors such as computer science; criminology and criminal justice; military science; and homeland and corporate security will participate. The event is open to the public and is intended for a campuswide audience. This is the first collaborative event organized by the C2AC, which was introduced earlier this semester.

"We're excited to continue outreach efforts of C2AC," said Nitin Sukhija, assistant professor of computer science and director of the C2AC. "Having our first collaborative, campuswide event is a great way to address important challenges of cybersecurity and further engage students across multiple disciplines and multiple departments."

Click here to visit the C2AC. For more information about the Dec. 4 cyberspace event, contact Sukhija at

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