Top Awards For APU Students In F-Secure-MDEC Cybersecurity Challenge

Team Spac3cat and PwnStars made their way to the final round and manage to get 2nd runner-up and Top 6th, respectively
Team Spac3cat and PwnStars from APU hacked their way into the Top 10 teams of the F-Secure-MDEC Cybersecurity Competition 2021.
This competition is the brainchild of a long-standing collaboration between F-Secure Corporation & Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) that aims to facilitate the transfer and empowerment of high-tech skills to the local workforce through education.
A total of 75 teams from 18 different universities competed in the F-Secure-MDEC Cybersecurity Competition on 15th November 2021.
Nine teams from Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) were shortlisted among the 49 teams and progressed to the semi-final round on 22nd September 2021.
Subsequently, only ten teams were shortlisted for the final round on 29th September 2021, and APU's Spac3cat and PwnStars made it to the final round securing 2nd runner-up and Top 6 spots respectively.
Significant experience and exposure
Team Spac3cat consisting of year two Data Analytics and Cyber Security students Ryan Martin, Nicholas and William Wijaya felt a little nervous because this was their first time representing APU in the CTF competitions.
Within the first hour, they were already in the Top 5 ranks and had managed to get to the second position, but another team (from KDU) overtook them in the last 10 minutes. However, they were still grateful for being 2nd runner-up and won the Elgato Wave 3.
They learnt valuable lessons such as teamwork, communication skills, and CTF technical skills.
Nicholas met William Wijaya for the first time in class since they are from the same intake, and they both met Ryan Martin from an Indonesian Student Society IT group also for the first time.
They begin to participate in tournaments as a result of their interest in CTF. “F-Secure challenges were pretty challenging compared to other CTF tournaments," Nicholas explained, "but our teams earned great experience and exposure attempting to complete these unique challenges."
“F-Secure-MDEC is such a fantastic competition because their challenges were tricky and laborious but also fun. We will join this competition again next year.”
Most difficult CTF competition
The F-Secure-MDEC Competition was a realistic challenge for Mohin Paramasivam, Leh Zee Chien and Chang Shiau Huei (team PwnStars), year three and two Information System Security, Digital Forensics and Cyber Security students since it introduces real-world malware analysis concepts like reverse engineering, obfuscation, and steganography to breed the next generation of blue team experts.

Since malware falls under the detection and response category, F-Secure is the most challenging and complex reverse-engineering competition they experienced.

“We always heard our seniors talk about this competition and grateful to be part in it and experienced the defensive aspect of cybersecurity ourselves. Without dependable team members, we would not have made it this far and look forward to the next one,” said Mohin.

Both teams were guided and supported by Ms Yusnita Yusof and Ms Nor Azlina Abd Rahman from School of Technology.