UCL Code Breaking Competition Winners Announced

On the V-Day and the 71st anniversary of defeating the Nazi Germany, we should remember how much the victory is owed to code breakers at Bletchley Park and elsewhere.

2016 UCL Code Breaking Competition (part of GA18).

On this day it is my pleasure to announce the winners of the 2016 UCL Code Breaking competition.

The winners are:

  • Joint 1st prize: Iason Papapanagiotakis-Bousy. Grade 89/100.
    Has obtained the title of Password Cracking and Cryptanalysis Champion.
  • Joint 1st prize: Chris Jeonghyuk Park. Grade 88/100.
    Has obtained the title of Blockchain Data Mining Champion.
  • 2nd prize: Patrick Hough. Grade obtained 76/100.
    Has obtained the title of Blockchain Key Recovery Champion.
  • 3rd Prize: Lim Min. Grade obtained 73/100.
    Has obtained the title of Best Female/Minority Code Breaker.
  • Distiction: Ilyas Azeem.
  • Distiction: Markus Schlegel.
  • Distiction: Ellery Smith.
  • Distiction: Weixiu Tan.

The first four students are also awarded a cash prize worth 1 BTC each, which will be converted to partial sponsorship for attending a summer school in Corfu, or/and other research expenses.

We also have merit-range grades (below 69): Huanyu Ma, Wei Shao, Yuruo Zhang.

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About UCL Code Breaking Competition

The Cryptanalysis (COMPGA18/COMPM068) module in UCL’s MSc Information Security provides students with the foundational knowledge to analyse cryptographic systems. In 2016, it was taught by Nicolas T. Courtois, Jonathan Bootle, Christophe Petit and Mary Maller. Some course slides, tutorials and labs we use in GA18 can be found here.

To give students a more realistic (and enjoyable) experience there is no written exam for this module; instead the students are evaluated based on [individual] programming projects and a [group] code breaking competition. 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 won the UK University Cipher Challenge 2013 award, held as part of the UK Cyber Security Challenge.

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This year the competition has been about recovering private keys in real-life systems. It has involved the study of random number generators, software reverse-engineering, password cracking, elliptic curve cryptography, hash functions, exploration of large datasets, programming and experimentation, optimization, visualization and statistics, and complex key recovery attacks based on algebraic exploitation of various types of special events. We also have developed passive and active side channel attacks with cache type of leakage, aiming at recovering private keys and with a variety of implementations. In the past years, we have allowed participants from other London universities. For further information, contact Dr Nicolas Courtois

About the Prize Winners:

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  • Iason Papapanagiotakis-Bousy (left) is a UCL M.Sc. InfoSec student from Greece.
    During the competition he has broken hundreds of thousands of real-life passwords including some 200 passwords which have never been discovered before. He has done remarkable work on algebraic cryptanalysis on Simon block cipher, which work has been submitted for publication and will be published in proceedings of SECRYPT 2016 conference this summer. He was also a member of UCL team in the international CTF (Capture The Flag) hacking competition. He has excellent skills in scientific data analysis and modeling and has greatly contributed to our blockchain high-speed data mining effort.
  • Chris Jeonghyuk Park is a UCL M.Sc. InfoSec student from South Korea. He was also a member of the same UCL team in CTF, and also a prolific password cracker able to recover countless passwords which no one has found before. He is an experienced Linux/C software developer. Furthermore, he also has distinguished himself in blockchain data mining. His expertise is problem solving, algorithms, network & system security. He recently has studied and did a presentation about Ethereum mining internals. This month he is starting an internship at a FinTech/blockchain company in central London.
  • Patrick Hough is a UCL Maths student (cf. here). His primary interest is analytic number theory, and he has been in the recent months working with Prof. Andrew Granville on (recently) very  famous questions of biases in prime numbers. He has been one of the very best first year students at UCL faculty of mathematical and physical sciences in 2013.
  • Lim Min (right) is a visiting UCL Maths student from Singapore. She is a born problem-solver and enjoys applying mathematics to real-life questions. During our lectures and tutorials, she distinguished herself by her questions and her natural grasp for understanding how various events affect the feasibility and success rate of cryptanalytic attacks.

Sponsors

Special thanks to our gold sponsors which are sponsoring our group trip to Greece or/and our research expenses prize fund: ClearmaticsTramonex, FinyearBlockchain.com.

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