campus news

UBIT partners with Cybersecurity Club on Wi-Fi hacking exercise

Students participating in a cybersecurity wifi hacking exercise.

Students take part in the “Intro to Wi-Fi Hacking” event that was held on March 6. Photo: Dikshit Khandelwal 


Published May 23, 2024

“As a higher education institution, we should always be looking for ways to help students learn. ”
Adam Zangerle, network engineer

Dikshit Khandelwal helped found the Cybersecurity Club (UBSEC) at UB to give students a deeper understanding of cybersecurity while promoting safe and ethical practices. But when the club wanted to host an exercise simulating Wi-Fi hacking scenarios, it needed equipment. Enter UBIT.

Khandelwal, UBSEC president and a senior computer science major with a minor in cybersecurity, reached out to UBIT for support. UBIT staff members Peter Fay and Adam Zangerle responded.   

This was the first time that UBIT provided equipment for students to configure themselves, Zangerle explains, noting that he and Fay provided five wireless access points, a network switch and guidance on how to set things up.  

“We were happy to help them with their event,” Zangerle says.  

The “Intro to Wi-Fi Hacking” event was held March 6, with more than 150 students participating. The club performed the exercise on an isolated network, which was not a part of the university-wide network. 

“Working with UBIT was crucial for accessing specialized equipment like the Aruba access points, which are essential for a realistic and technical understanding of Wi-Fi security,” Khandelwal notes. “The support made it possible for us to deliver a high-quality, practical learning experience.”

The club made sure the exercise was responsible, safe and conducted in a managed area. Legal and ethical compliance, supervision and safety, and safeguards for responsible use were all part of the planning process.

“We used the Aruba access points provided by UBIT to simulate Wi-Fi hacking scenarios,” Khandelwal saiys “These access points were very useful, as they gave us a platform to set up the Wi-Fi network. This setup allowed us to demonstrate various hacking techniques and provide hands-on experience in a safe and controlled environment.”

The goal of the exercise, Khandelwal says, was to “expose” students to the types of cybersecurity challenges they’re likely to encounter in the real world. 

“We aimed to develop their skills in detecting and responding to security breaches effectively,” he says. 

Ready to collaborate

Khandelwal says watching the students enthusiastically engage in the exercise was “rewarding.” It also reaffirmed his commitment to pursuing a career in cybersecurity. He would like to explore further collaborations with UBIT.

“Cybersecurity is a crucial field that touches nearly every aspect of our digital lives, even within our university community,” he says. “Collaborating with UBIT not only allows our students to gain real-world experience, but also prepares them for the demands of the cybersecurity workforce.

“We are eager to continue this partnership,” Khanwelwal says, “as it provides invaluable opportunities for our members to apply their learning in practical scenarios, further bridging the gap between academic theories and practical application. This ongoing collaboration is essential for keeping our curriculum current and relevant.”

Providing the equipment for UBSEC’s exercise is just one example of how UBIT supports student clubs on campus. Through providing equipment setup, instruction and feedback, UBIT works hard to accommodate requests from student organizations.

And while the collaborations with UBIT are helpful for students, there’s also a benefit to UBIT, Zangerle points out. “As a higher education institution, we should always be looking for ways to help students learn. 

“[Working with students] also helps UBIT with its day-to-day functions,” Zangerle adds. “Often, devising innovative solutions for student events enables us to explore new techniques and functionalities of our equipment, which are then integrated into our campus setup.”

Students and student organizations in need of assistance should contact the UBIT Help Center.