A team of three recent graduates from the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) were ranked first amongst UAE competitors and second overall in the inaugural GITEX Student Lab Competition.
Ali Payani, Khalid Al-Najjar and Marlen Bissaliyev competed against nine other groups of finalists to take away the second prize of AED 20,000 for their technology innovation, the ‘APD.3 Auto Phishing Detector’.
Sponsored by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and organised in collaboration with Google as part of its commitment to supporting education initiatives, the Student Lab Competition aimed to recognise and promote the brightest and most innovative ICT students and recent graduates from across the region.
Ali, Khalid and Marlen entered the first round of the competition back in June with their Auto Phishing Detector, a solution that detects malicious web content and alerts and protects users from phishing attacks. From hundreds of original applicants across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, the three graduates were selected to take part in the finals of the event, which saw them showcasing their innovation in front of leading industry professionals at the GITEX Exhibition between 20 and 24 October.
The trio were inspired to develop the tool whilst undertaking their final year studies in Computer Science at UOWD. Majoring in Digital Systems Security, Khalid says, “Information security is a hugely important issue in a society where technology is embedded in so many aspects of everyday life. It is a subject we are passionate about and we are pleased to have been able to raise awareness of the issue on such a major platform as GITEX.”
The Competition judging panel comprised Ahmed Al Hassani, Head of Networks and Systems Unit, Ministry of Presidential Affairs; Abdel Wahed Bendaoua, Head of Emerging Markets - EMEA, Google; and Majid Farouck Hanna, General Manager, the UAE Society of Engineers. Their decision was based on the entries’ innovation and design, real-life impact and usability, as well as the teams’ presentational quality and technical details.
The UOWD team impressed the panel with the innovative elements of their solution, as Ali explains, “The tool is unique in that it operates as an add-on for current browsers, ensuring that it can run on multiple platforms. It is also able to detect non-reported phishing sites, which can significantly reduce the risk of zero-day phishing attacks.”
Amongst the top three teams, the UOWD graduates were the only group to address the issue of digital security. Marlen concludes, “It has been a challenging but rewarding experience to be part of this prestigious competition. We are delighted to be awarded second place and moreover to receive positive feedback on our solution from experts in the industry.”