UBIT partners with Cybersecurity Club on Wi-Fi hacking exercise

Students participating in the Cybersecurity exercise.

Students taking part in the “Intro to Wi-Fi Hacking” event that was held on March 6, 2024. Photo by Dikshit Khandelwal 

By Michael Canfield
UBIT staff writer

Published May 20, 2024

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

UBIT helps out

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 said, 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 said.  

Why specialized equipment

The “Intro to Wi-Fi Hacking” event was held on March 6, 2024 with over 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 said. “The support made it possible for us to deliver a high-quality, practical learning experience.”

"As a higher education institution, we should always be looking for ways to help students learn."

Adam Zangerle > Network Engineer, Network and Classroom Services, University at Buffalo.

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 said. “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 said, 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 said. 

Ready to collaborate

Khandelwal said that watching the students enthusiastically engage in the exercise was “rewarding.” It also reaffirmed his commitment to pursuing a career in cybersecurity. Khandelwal 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 said. “Collaborating with UBIT not only allows our students to gain real-world experience, but also prepares them for the demands of the cybersecurity workforce.”

Khanwelwal continued, “We are eager to continue this partnership, 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 set-up, 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 said.  “As a higher education institution, we should always be looking for ways to help students learn,” he added. 

“[Working with students] also helps UBIT with its day-to-day functions,” Zangerle added. “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.

UB Information Technology News keeps UB students, faculty, and staff informed about their IT services and showcases creative collaborations between UBIT and the campus community. Published by the Office of the Chief Information Officer at UB and distributed via email as The Monthly Download. Edited by Diana Tuorto, IT Communication and Engagement, dianatuo@buffalo.edu.