Yearlong competition proves digital forensics savviness

Competing against military and industry experts, as well as independent specialists, a four-person team from the College of Technology placed fifth in the yearlong international 2013 DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge.

In addition, they were the top team in the graduate school category. The team, known as Or11, included computer and information technology graduate students William Ellis, Jacob Kambic, Eric Katz and Sydney Liles. The competition attracted more than 1,200 teams.

“After this competition, they are considered some of the top people in the cyberforensics industry,” said Sam Liles, advisor to the team and associate professor of computer and information technology. “This was like the Olympics of cyberforensics.”

The team completed 33 out of 40 projects during the 10-month competition. The tasks involved a wide range of challenges, from computer memory analysis and cryptography to network malware.

Not all of the challenges featured topics taught at Purdue, but that didn’t stop the team from completing additional research in their quest to solve them.

“What’s cool is that Professor Liles can now use our challenges in his classes,” Katz said. “Our work will help improve the curriculum.”

The challenges also helped another team member solidify his master’s thesis topic.

“For the memory analysis challenge, we had to look for evidence in volatile memory,” Kambic said. Volatile memory requires power to retain information.

“My thesis will focus on extracting Windows passwords from offline memory captures,” he said.

In addition to a plaque and medals, the team members earned passes to the next Hacker Halted Conference in Atlanta, Ga., in October.