UCL Code Breaking Competition Winners Announced

On the V-Day and the 70th anniversary of defeating the Nazi Germany, we need to remember how much this victory was owed to code breakers at Bletchley Park and elsewhere.

UCL code breaking competition

On this day it is my pleasure to announce the winners of the 2015 UCL Code Breaking competition.

The winners are:

  • Joint 1st prize: Gemma Bartlett. Grade obtained 92/100.
  • Joint 1st prize: Vasileios Mavroudis.  Grade obtained 92/100.
  • 2nd prize: David Kohan Marzagão.  Grade obtained 82/100.


About UCL code breaking competition

UCL code breaking competition is our code breaking competition.
It is run as a part of Cryptanalysis COMPGA18/COMPM068 module which was in 2015 taught by Nicolas Courtois, Christophe Petit, Jonathan Bootle and Lucky Onwuzurike. There is no written exam in this course, the code breaking competition is really the key component of how the students are evaluated. It is graded formally according to strict rules and UCL practices. This module is part of UCL specialist M.Sc. in Information Security.

UCL has a strong tradition of experimental research and we have been running many student competitions and hacking events in the past. In March 2013 a team directed by Dr. Courtois has won the UK University Cipher Champion 2013 award.

This year the competition has been about finding cryptographically significant events in a real-life financial system. The competition effort has involved the study of random number generators, elliptic curve cryptography, hash functions, exploration of large datasets, programming and experimentation, visualisation and statistics. Main achievements were formulating a general theorem which characterizes in terms of cycles in a certain graph which private keys can be computed and how, and practical operational achievements such as efficient discovery of interesting events in large datasets and recovering endless cryptographic keys of thousands of actual users of this system.

The details cannot be disclosed at this moment, however a research paper which summarized the findings and a database of what we have found will be published soon.

UCL competition is open to participants from other London universities.
For further information contact Dr Nicolas Courtois.


About the winners:

 gemmb vasmdavm

  • Gemma Bartlett (on the left) is in her final year at UCL studying for an M.Eng. in Mathematical Computation with a focus on Information Security. Her particular interests include digital forensics. She will be starting a job in this field after graduation.
  • Vasilios Mavroudis (in the middle) received his B.Sc. in Applied Informatics from the University of Macedonia, Greece in 2012.  He is currently pursuing an M.Sc. in Information Security at UCL. In the past, he has worked as a security researcher in Deutsche Bank, University of California Santa Barbara and at the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH). His research interests include network and systems security, malware, and applied cryptography.
  • David Kohan Marzagão (on the right) is currently undertaking a PhD in Computer Science under the supervision of Peter McBurney at King’s College London.  In 2014, he received his BSc in Mathematics at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. His research interests include cryptography, multi-agent systems, graph theory, and random walks.

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