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    Michigan Tech Team Ranks #3 in Spring 2021 NCL Power Rankings

    Michigan Tech ranks number three (3) in the Spring 2021 National Cyber League’s Cyber Power Rankings, rising 12 points from a Fall 2020 ranking of 15. One hundred (100) teams were ranked.

    In the NCL cyber-competitions, thousands of students from hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide are challenged to identify hackers from forensic data, pentest and audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more.

    Three factors are considered in a school’s annual Cyber Power Ranking. In descending magnitude of weight, they are:

    • The school’s top performing team during the Team Game
    • The school’s top performing student during the Individual Game
    • The number of participating students from the school, with additional consideration given to better student performance during the Individual Game

    Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students. The rankings represent the ability of students from these schools to perform real-world cybersecurity tasks on the Cyber Skyline platform.

    See how the NCL competitions work.

    View the full list of NCL rankings.

    The Cyber Power Rankings were created by Cyber Skyline in partnership with the National Cyber League (NCL). Every year, over 10,000 students from more than 300 colleges and universities across the US participate in the NCL competitions.

    PhD Student Niusen Chen Wins Best Paper Award at EAI AC3 2021

    A paper authored by a PhD student Niusen Chen (Computer Science), received the Best Paper Award at The First EAI International Conference on Applied Cryptography in Computer and Communications (EAI AC3 2021), which took place virtually May 15-16, 2021.

    The paper discusses the design of MobiWear, the first PDE system specifically for wearable mobile devices.

    “Excellent work, Niusen! Well deserved!” says Dr. Bo Chen, Niusen Chen’s faculty advisor.

    The paper, “MobiWear: A Plausibly Deniable Encryption System for Wearable Mobile Devices,” is co-authored by Dr. Bo Chen (Computer Science), and Dr. Weisong Shi, professor of computer science, Wayne State University, one of the world leaders in the edge computing research community.

    Niusen Chen is a third-year PhD student in the Michigan Tech Department of Computer Science. He received his M.S. from University of Florida, and his B.E. from Harbin Institute of Technology at Weihai. His research interests include securely deleting data in flash devices and implementing Plausibly Deniable Encryption (PDE) to fare against coercive attack in flash devices.

    Twelve papers were accepted to the main EAI AC3 2021 conference, with six accepted for the IOTS workshop, including Niusen Chen’s submission.


    Mobile computing devices are widely used in our daily life. With their increased use, a large amount of sensitive data are collected, stored, and managed in the mobile devices. To protect sensitive data, encryption is often used, but traditional encryption is vulnerable to coercive attacks in which the device owner is coerced by the adversary to disclose the decryption key. To defend against the coercive attacks, Plausibly Deniable Encryption (PDE) has been designed which can allow the victim user to deny the existence of hidden sensitive data. The PDE systems have been explored broadly for smartphones. However, the PDE systems which are suitable for wearable mobile devices are still missing in the literature.

    In this work, we design MobiWear, the first PDE system specifically for wearable mobile devices. To accommodate the hardware nature of wearable devices, MobiWear: 1) uses image steganography to achieve PDE, which suits the resource-limited wearable devices; and 2) relies on various sensors equipped with the wearable devices to input passwords, rather than requiring users to enter them via a keyboard or a touchscreen. Security analysis and experimental evaluation using a real-world prototype (ported to an LG G smartwatch) show that MobiWear can ensure deniability with a small computational overhead as well as a small decrease of image quality.

    Funding Sources

    This work was supported by Dr. Bo Chen’s NSF grant, 1928349-CNS, “SaTC: CORE: Small: Collaborative: Hardware-assisted Plausibly Deniable System for Mobile Devices.” The work was also partially supported by NSF grants 1928331-CNS and 1938130-CNS.

    Dr. Bo Chen is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. He served as a member of the steering committee for the EAI AC3 2021 conference.

    Dr. Chen directs the Secure and Privacy (SnP) lab at Michigan Tech. Established in early 2018, the mission of SnP lab is to promote research and education of cybersecurity.

    Husky Innovate Students Win Top Prizes in New Venture Online Competition

    by Husky Innovate

    For the 11th year running, Central Michigan University and Michigan Tech collaborated to offer Tech students a chance to compete at CMU’s New Venture Competition. 2021 marked the second year the pitch competition was held online as the New Venture Online Competition (NVOC).

    Despite the challenges of a pandemic and a virtual platform, our students persevered, honed their pitches and won top prizes. This year’s NVOC winners were also winners at the 2021 Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition held at Tech in January. All of their hard work and effort paid off!

    Congratulations to this year’s MTU winners:

    • In the 2020-track 10-minute pitch category, Team Focus with Ranit Karmakar won the Best Overall Venture Award for $25,000. Watch Karmakar’s pitch.
    • In the two-minute pitch category, Team The Fitting Room with Jordan Craven won third place for $1,000. Watch Craven’s pitch.
    • Team Recirculate with Hunter Malinowski won an honorable mention award for $750. Watch Malinowski’s pitch.

    Read more in the NVOC 2021 Booklet.

    Students Place in ICPC Programming Championships

    A team of Michigan Tech students competed last week in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) North America Division Championships, placing 28th out of 42 teams in the Central Division.

    To qualify for the Championships, a Michigan Tech student team placed 14th out of more than 80 teams in the regional ICPC contest this February. Students on that team were Alex Gougeon (Software Engineering), Ben Wireman (Mathematics), and Dominika Bobik.

    Students interested in the programming competitions are encouraged to contact Dr. Laura Brown, Computer Science. Additional programming contests and events take place throughout the year.

    The International Collegiate Programming Contest is the premier world-wide, algorithmic programming contest for college students.

    In ICPC competitions, teams of three students work to solve the most real-world problems efficiently and correctly. Teams represent their university in multiple levels of competition: regionals, divisionals, championships, and world finals.

    RedTeam Achieves Breakthrough in NCL Cybersecurity Competition

    The 23 members of the Michigan Tech RedTeam achieved a historic breakthrough in the Spring 2021 National Cyber League (NCL) competition.

    The primary team finished the capture-the-flag (CTF) team competition 3rd Place in the overall ranking (tied for 1st Place in score). More than 900 teams from across the country participated in the CTF.

    Students on the primary team are: Trevor Hornsby, Dakoda Patterson, Stu Kernstock, Matthew Chau, Ryan Klemm, Shane Hoppe, and Joshua Stiebel.

    Further, of the 4,180 individual players competing in this spring’s NCL, four RedTeam players ranked in the Top 100: Trevor Hornsby (50th Place), Dakoda Patterson (59th), Stu Kernstock (75th), and Matthew Chau (100th).

    “Amazing achievements!” said Dr. Bo Chen, Computer Science. “We are proud of you guys!” Chen, along with Dr. Yu Cai, Applied Computing, are advisors to the student organization.

    The biannual NCL cybersecurity competition, for college and high school students, consists of a series of individual and team challenges, which present opportunities for students to prepare and test themselves against practical cybersecurity knowledge and skills, such as identifying hackers from forensic data, pentesting and auditing vulnerable websites, and recovering from ransomware attacks.

    RedTeam is a registered Michigan Tech student organization. The team works to promote a security-driven mindset among students, and provide a community and resource for those wishing to learn more about information security.

    Interested in cybersecurity? RedTeam meets every Thursday, 6:00-7:00 p.m., in Discord. Students with little or no background in cybersecurity are welcome. Contact the Red Team ( for more information.