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NUS and SMU Empower Students and Staff to Hack for Good

September 29, 2020

Students and faculty engage in real-world cybersecurity training with HackerOne while earning bounties and safeguarding their universities from cyber attacks

SINGAPORE - September 29, 2020 - HackerOne, the world’s trusted hacker-powered security platform, today announced the successful conclusion of the inaugural Inter-University (InterUni) Bug Bounty Challenge, jointly organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) in partnership with HackerOne. Bug bounty programmes incentivise ethical hackers to look for software vulnerabilities or ‘bugs’ in exchange for monetary rewards or ‘bounties.’

NUS was the first university in Singapore to launch a bug bounty challenge in 2019 to actively incentivise its own students to hone their hacking skills and contribute to the defense of university infrastructure. Building upon the success of last year’s challenge, NUS expanded participation to SMU with the goal of sharing knowledge, synergising resources, and working towards cyber resilience together. The InterUni Bug Bounty Challenge, led by NUS and SMU, is a significant step towards cybersecurity collaboration and progress within the educational ecosystem.

“Results of the InterUni Bug Bounty Challenge 2020 have again exceeded expectations,” said Tommy Hor, Chief Information Technology Officer at NUS. “Extending the participation to other universities was a natural progression of our aim to continue driving cybersecurity innovation within the local higher education community. We were able to build upon last year’s Challenge and make this an inclusive exercise for students and faculty at both universities.”

The three-week InterUni hacking challenge was held from 12 August 2020 to 2 September 2020. More than 200 participated, testing a total of 18 critical systems and digital assets, three of which are mobile based. Overall, 33 valid vulnerabilities were safely reported by participants, earning US$13,700 for their findings, nearly triple the amount earned in NUS’ initial bug bounty challenge last year. Participating students were also eligible to earn extra academic credits for select course modules on the completion of the training sessions.

“There is no better way for students to learn than to find security bugs in the real world,” said Lau Kai Cheong, Chief Information Officer at SMU. “The Challenge allowed us to extend security testing to include those who use our technology most. Providing this opportunity for our students and faculty to build practical cybersecurity skills also helped us reduce real organizational risk.”

This is the third time HackerOne has partnered with a major university to empower students to secure their school. In 2017, the University of Berkeley in the U.S. enrolled in an experimental “cyberwar” course powered by HackerOne. To train future cybersecurity leaders, the broader security community has to invest in education. HackerOne is proud to be a part of such efforts, empowering the world to build a safer internet.

“This challenge undoubtedly helped me build up my cybersecurity skills and put them to good use on real world systems,” said Ngo Wei Lin, Year 3 student at the NUS School of Computing who emerged as top winner of the InterUni Bug Bounty Challenge 2020. “It was commendable that the University made available real-life systems for this programme. I won big not because of the cash award but the invaluable real-life experience I have gained.”

The partnership between NUS and SMU has brought proactive security to new heights, increasing the team of defenders and expanding the opportunities for learning. Despite the pandemic, students were able to learn more than in previous years, showing that collaboration is a competitive advantage against attackers. NUS and SMU plan to make the InterUni Bug Bounty Challenge an annual event.

About National University of Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education, research and entrepreneurship, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. We have 17 faculties across three campuses in Singapore, as well as 12 NUS Overseas Colleges across the world. Close to 40,000 students from 100 countries enrich our vibrant and diverse campus community.

Our multidisciplinary and real-world approach to education, research and entrepreneurship enables us to work closely with industry, governments and academia to address crucial and complex issues relevant to Asia and the world. Researchers in our faculties, 30 university-level research institutes, research centers of excellence and corporate labs focus on themes that include energy, environmental and urban sustainability; treatment and prevention of diseases common among Asians; active ageing; advanced materials; as well as risk management and resilience of financial systems. Our latest research focus is on the use of data science, operations research and cybersecurity to support Singapore's Smart Nation initiative.

 For more information on NUS, please visit www.nus.edu.sg.

About Singapore Management University

 A premier university in Asia, the Singapore Management University (SMU) is internationally recognized for its world-class research and distinguished teaching. Established in 2000, SMU’s mission is to generate leading-edge research with global impact and to produce broad-based, creative and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge-based economy. SMU’s education is known for its highly interactive, collaborative and project-based approach to learning

Home to over 10,000 students across undergraduate, postgraduate professional and post-graduate research programs, SMU, is comprised six schools: School of Accountancy, Lee Kong Chian School of Business, School of Economics, School of Information Systems, School of Law, and School of Social Sciences. SMU offers a wide range of bachelors', masters' and PhD degree programs in the disciplinary areas associated with the six schools, as well as in multidisciplinary combinations of these areas.

SMU emphasizes rigorous, high-impact, multi- and interdisciplinary research that addresses Asian issues of global relevance.  SMU faculty members collaborate with leading international researchers and universities around the world, as well as with partners in the business community and public sector. SMU’s city campus is a modern facility located in the heart of downtown Singapore, fostering strategic linkages with business, government and the wider community.  www.smu.edu.sg

About HackerOne

HackerOne empowers the world to build a safer internet. As the world’s most trusted hacker-powered security platform, HackerOne gives organizations access to the largest community of hackers on the planet. Armed with the most robust database of vulnerability trends and industry benchmarks, the hacker community mitigates cyber risk by searching, finding, and safely reporting real-world security weaknesses for organizations across all industries and attack surfaces. Customers include The U.S. Department of Defense, Dropbox, General Motors, GitHub, Goldman Sachs, Google, Hyatt, Intel, Lufthansa, Microsoft, MINDEF Singapore, Nintendo, PayPal, Qualcomm, Slack, Starbucks, Twitter, and Verizon Media. HackerOne was ranked fifth on the Fast Company World’s Most Innovative Companies list for 2020. Headquartered in San Francisco, HackerOne has a presence in London, New York, the Netherlands, France, Singapore, and over 70 other locations across the globe.


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