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UOWD team set to compete in finals of GITEX Student Lab competition

Monday, 21 October, 2013

Three recent graduates from the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) have reached the finals of the prestigious GITEX Student Lab competition 2013. Ali Payani, Khalid Al-Najjar and Marlen Bissaliyev are now preparing to showcase their innovation in front of leading industry professionals at the GITEX Exhibition from 20 – 24 October.

The competition, which is sponsored by the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs, was launched in June this year and set out to find the brightest and most innovative ICT students and recent graduates across the region. Ali, Khalid and Marlen were amongst hundreds of entrants from across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Their innovation, the ‘APD.3 Auto Phishing Detector’ was selected for the final phase of the competition, which will see them exhibit the tool at the UAE’s foremost technology event, GITEX.

Marlen explains, “Phishing is a method of gaining personal data such as bank account details, passwords and other private information through emails or social network interactions. Typically the messages come from what appear to be trustworthy sources, so it’s not surprising that most users do not recognise a phishing message.”

The team were inspired to develop a tool that could help alert users and protect them from phishing attacks during their final year Computer Science studies at UOWD. “As majors of the Digital Systems Security program, we have always had a keen interest in the safety of internet use”, says Ali, who is currently sharing his expertise teaching lab sessions at the University. “Phishing is a universal problem – around 33,000 attacks take place globally each month – it can affect any user at any time, so developing a solution that helps prevent attacks could have widespread impact.” 

Khalid, the third and final member of the team, is already a prize-winning competitor in the field of information technology. In April this year he took first place in Arabnet Developer Tournament, a prestigious competition that attracted some of the best IT brains from the academic and business worlds. 

Explaining the technology being the Auto Phishing Detector, Khalid says, “The solution implements a security system with detection and learning phases. Thousands of templates would be uploaded onto the server to scan the webpages a user is viewing, and when suspicious data is found, the browser program can notify the user about the malicious content. The tool is created as an add-on for current browsers, ensuring that it can run on multiple platforms.”

The team has already produced a video presentation and business case report as part of the selection process to reach the finals. They will now go up against nine other groups of students and recent graduates from across the region hoping to be place amongst the top three entries, who will win cash prizes and training opportunities in the industry.

The team will be exhibiting throughout the week-long Exhibition, culminating in a final presentation to a judging panel representing the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, EMEA Google, and the Society of Engineers, UAE. The final placing will also take into account a public vote, which is open for the duration of GITEX Technology Week.

To find out more about the project visit www.apd3.net and to show your support for the team and cast your vote, visit them at stand number 2 in the Student Lab section of the Exhibition at Sheikh Saeed Hall 1, Dubai World Trade Centre.