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Random(Security) at ScriptEd Hackathon

GregPatton ‎05-23-2014 08:19 AM - edited ‎08-03-2015 06:37 AM

On Saturday, May 17, my colleague Preston Thornburg and I from the HP Fortify on Demand team, participated as both technical speakers and judges at the annual ScriptEd Hackathon in New York City.  ScriptEd is a nonprofit organization that offers programming classes to under-served high school students in NYC.  At the Hackathon event students stretch their knowledge by teaming up with other students and creating complex programs around a theme.  This year’s theme was “random()”.  Students were challenged to develop programs that incorporated random functions in their applications.
To kick-off the event,  Preston and I gave the students a Tech-Talk on insecure randomness in application security.  Insecure randomness errors occur in applications when a function that can produce predictable values is used as a source of randomness in a security-sensitive context. We discussed several places we often see insecure randomness when analyzing applications for security flaws; CAPTCHAs, initialization vectors in encryption, nonces, temporary files, and user sessions values (all places developers often use insure random fuctions to protect their applications). Following the morning Tech-Talk, students spent the next six hours writing code. 
The student’s concepts, designs, teamwork, and creativity were inspiring. The final projects were amazing!  Judging was extremely challenging as all the projects were unique and special. Many of the projects used random functions to create some type of game including a truly unique project that referenced “Pokédex.”  The application utilized a Wikipedia scraper that would search for key Pokémon references within resolved links  The overall winner, SoundMood, was an application that played random songs and displayed random colors and pictures based upon your feelings and mood.  That team also took home the “Best Use of an API” award.
In all, it was a rewarding day for the kids and for us. It was great to see so many young students getting passionate about programming and web design!
To learn more about the cool stuff that ScriptED does or to get involved, visit their website or follow them on Twitter @ScriptEdOrg.
Greg Patton
Mobile Delivery Manager
HP Fortify on Demand

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