KPUHacks hosts first virtual hackathon

The theme of the hackathon was cybersecurity

(Kristen Frier)

On March 27, Kwantlen Polytechnic University presented KPUHacks, a cybersecurity hackathon that was done digitally to follow protocols in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was the first time KPU hosted its own hackathon. The event went from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, with over a dozen teams and participants competing in different challenges for prizes for the top teams.

“KPUHacks is KPU’s School of Business’ first virtual hackathon,” says Susan Xia, an administrative assistant in the School of Business. “So it’s an opportunity for students from Canadian post-secondary institutions to get involved with cybersecurity.”

KPUHacks was initially created when faculty organizer Mandeep Pannu brought the idea to the School of Business.

“And the hackathon idea came about as an opportunity for students to learn, it’s one kind of the more practical aspects, promoting our beliefs in experiential learning,” says Xia.

The focus of the hackathon this year was cybersecurity.

“It covers a variety of challenges related to forensics, cryptography, web exploitation, reverse engineering, and binary exploitation. So it is a ‘capture the flag’-type hackathon, and participants are getting points for their team,” says Xia

To join the hackathon, participants entered independently or as part of a team of two or three. The event followed a safety protocol to keep participants secure during the challenge by having a VPN service. Participants were also required to have a computer and stable internet connection.

There were three prizes for the top winning teams or individuals. These were a $300 gift card for first place, a $225 gift card for second place, and a $75 gift card for third place.

A team of two candidates from Simon Fraser University and Langara College came in third place, three members from the New York Institute of Technology based in Vancouver came in second place, and a team of three from the University of the Fraser Valley came in first place.

Xia says that there might be another KPU hackathon in the roks for the future, but it might be in-person next time.

“We are looking at possibly hosting our next one in-person if the good conditions prevail,” she says.