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Fending off a hospital cyberattack, Cal Poly students learn by doing at hacker convention

DEF CON 27 takes place in Las Vegas August 8-11
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Posted at 2:43 PM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 17:46:54-04

A hospital is under a cyberattack. How do you keep a crucial community asset up and running? It's a scenario that is all too real in today's world.

Now Cal Poly students, faculty and staff will bring this scenario to life for attendees at one of the world's largest hacker conventions, DEF CON 27.

The University announced Thursday Cal Poly's California Cybersecurity Institute and global healthcare company, Abbott, will set up a hands-on experience which will include an immersive hosital set, a pharmacy, laboratory surgical room and a patient/ICU/Neonatal Unit during the convention August 8-11 in Las Vegas.

According to a news release, conference attendees will be challenged to defend the hospital from a cyberattack through “Capture the Flag” exercises that ultimately aim to find solutions to cybersecurity risks in the public healthcare system.

Cal Poly students helped to create the set design and a digital comic book-style story that will be handed out to DEF CON attendees who visit the Biohacking Village.

Photo Courtesy: Cal Poly

“My involvement with the CCI, the Biohacking Village and DEF CON has been amazing,” said Jess MacMillan, a liberal arts and engineering studies major who helped coordinate the story and set design for the CCI. “During this experience, I have increased my cyber fluency and gained insight to the many challenges that exist in the medical environment.”

Last year, over 5,000 visitors attended the Biohacking Village at DEF CON with interests in security, medical, technology, engineering, devices, and fabrication.