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NUCATS wins best society of the year at the Union awards

Newcastle University Computing and Technology Society (NUCATS) won best society of the year at the University Union Awards in April. The reason for winning the award was:

"In the last year the Society has increased their member base by 300%, taught over 100 secondary school students how to code using innovative teaching methods, raised nearly £4000 for a local charity and organised successful hackathons in partnership with local tech companies."

published on: 12th May 2016

Nature News: How to hack the hackers - the human side of cybercrime

The following is an extract from Nature News about cyber-attacks and the embracing of the behavioural sciences and economics to understand both the perpetrators and their victims and the involvement of the Research Institute in Science of Cyber Security in which Newcastle participates. Say what you will about cybercriminals, says Angela Sasse, "their victims rave about the customer service". Sasse is talking about ransomware: an extortion scheme in which hackers encrypt the data on a user's computer, then demand money for the digital key to unlock them. Victims get detailed, easy-to-follow instructions for the payment process (all major credit cards accepted), and how to use the key. If they run into technical difficulties, there are 24/7 call centres. "It's better support than they get from their own Internet service providers," says Sasse, a psychologist and computer scientist at University College London who heads the Research Institute in Science of Cyber Security, which includes the Choice Architecture for Information Security project between Newcastle and Northumbria Universities.

published on: 12th May 2016

John Vines wins TEA Award

Yesterday (5th May) was the annual Teaching Excellence Award (TEA) 'gala' organised by Newcastle University Student Union. Since its inception a few years back, the TEA award is very quickly growing into the most significant indicator of teaching excellence in our University. This year Jason Steggles and John Vines were shortlisted for an award, Jason in the 'Overall' category and John for 'Innovation'. Being shortlisted is a significant acknowledgement of excellence in teaching in its own right. Moreover, John Vines was yesterday announced as TEA award winner in his category! A great recognition for his innovative teaching practices in the Digital Civics CDT taught modules.

published on: 6th May 2016

Willow Burn Hospice thank CS students for Gameathon Fundraising

On April 27th, Willow Burn Hospice, Lanchester, welcomed representatives from the Computing and Technology Society (NUCATS) to thank them for the recent 24 hour Gameathon event which raised over £3,700 for the hospice. Danwen Huang, Harry Large and Eva Theodoridou, along with staff member John Colquhoun were shown around the hospice by Community Fundraiser Jacqueline Pigford who explained how the money raised would be used to help patients. Willow Burn Trustee Paul Jackson presented NUCATS with a certificate whilst Harry also received a trophy for contributing the largest amount of money raised by an individual during the Gameathon. Harry commented "Having seen the amazing work that Willow Burn Hospice does with the limited funds they receive has really made me happy to have been able to raise the money I did for them. I hope that all the money we raised from the event will be able to go a long way there and help to continue the staff at Willow Burn to be able to do what they do best which I believe is bringing smiles and lots of amazing support for the local community. When we got told that they don't have the funds to be able to help everyone almost brought a tear to me and I want to continue to try to raise as much money as I can for Willow Burn, so that they can continue to do the amazing work they are and give the patients the care they deserve!"

published on: 29th April 2016

Newcastle research contributing to improve W3C security

A recent project by researchers in the School of Computing Science (Maryam Mehrnezhad, Ehsan Toreini, Siamak Shahandashti, Feng Hao), reveals a significant flaw in the current W3C specification. Conforming to W3C, mobile web browsers allow JavaScript code in a web page to access motion and orientation sensor data without the user's permission. However, by analysing the collected sensor data, it is possible for a remote web page to deduce the user's local touch actions on the mobile phone screen and even the PIN entered into other web pages. This flaw imposes serious privacy risks to end users, and affects all major browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari.

published on: 28th April 2016

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