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Students to learn about security, cultures at world conference

May 7, 2019

“Cybersecurity is largely a similar problem the world over,” but world cultures are very unique, said Dr. Josh Stroschein.

For students to experience those cultures while learning about cybersecurity, Stroschein organized a study-abroad trip for students in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Security at Dakota State University.

Thirteen students and three faculty are attending and volunteering as part of the core team at the 10th annual Hack in the Box (HITB) Conference held May 9-11 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. There are six on-campus and seven online students, from the undergraduate to doctoral level.

One of the many motivations behind this trip “was to expose students to that fact that there are others concerned about cyber security, and those others come from different cultures,” Stroschein said, “people who have different ways of looking at life and addressing the issues, and deciding how to tackle them.”

Stroschein took his first study-abroad trip as a college student, and found it was an eye-opening opportunity, so he wanted to find a way to pay it back. Having worked with HITB conferences previously, he reached out to organizers about the possibility of bringing students to the event.

“They were very happy to have the students become involved as an integral part of the core volunteer team,” he said, “because a large component of the conference is academic education.” Stroschein is assistant professor of cyber security and network and security administration in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences at Dakota State.

Volunteering is another opportunity, said Dr. Bramwell Brizendine, assistant professor of computer and cyber sciences. “This offers the students a chance not to be just casual observers but active participants in the conference.” He is also attending HITB, as is Dr. David Bishop, associate professor of information systems.

The theme for the 10th annual conference is “The Hacks of Future Past,” and will feature exhibits, speakers, and competitions.  While there will be over 2,000 participants, the conference is still small enough that the students “will be able to build their network, and work with people of different nationalities, different cultures and customs,” Stroschein said. They are also slated to meet with Victor Julien of OISF/ Suricata and Jurrian Bremer of Cuckoo Sandbox. Bremer worked with one of Brizendine’s students on a research project this past semester.

“Building that network only increases the odds that something good can happen,” said Stroschein.

There are plans to build communication about future study-abroad experiences so students and faculty will be aware of upcoming opportunities, he added.