Cedarville University Visit

January 27th, 2020 by Kevin Hoffer

We recently had the privilege of visiting the Cedarville University campus in Cedarville, Ohio, just about an hour northeast of our Miamisburg, Ohio headquarters. Dr. Seth Hamman, an associate professor in Cedarville’s Computer Science department, invited us to do some demos and discuss the work we do with some of the students who were interested in cyber operations and software reverse engineering.

We arrived about an hour before we were scheduled to start, and Dr. Hamman was gracious enough to give us a short tour before we got started. It was a pretty cold afternoon, but we were able to stop in and warm up at the buildings surrounding the small Cedar Lake in the center of campus. Cedarville’s campus is beautiful, with many of its buildings either new or recently renovated. The student center and chapel are definitely two focal points of the school. During the tour, Dr. Hamman introduced us to Jeff Reep, the director of Career Services, who was very welcoming and even gave us some coffee mugs with the Cedarville logo.

After the short tour, we got our demos set up and set out the Chick-fil-A that we brought for the students. Full disclosure: we also ate the Chick-fil-A! The students started trickling in, and after a short time for everyone to get settled our president, Kevin Hoffer, got started discussing our company’s history and the type of work we do for our customers. Then we started right on in with the demos. Our Chief Scientist and one of our systems engineers showed off a proof-of-concept Android app we built under our Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program that can silently record video and audio, GPS coordinates, and allows for remote network-based command and control to copy files to or from the device. The coolest part was when we showed off the stealth capability we developed that allows the app to hide itself from the list of running services, which is one of the only places it shows up to a user. We then discussed some of the other IRAD work we’ve done in the past involving home routers and some current work related to fuzzing for software vulnerabilities. We talked with the students about our internship program and the training we’ve developed to help a new hire or intern to learn the basics they need to know to work at our company, and we showed off one of the reverse engineering challenges from our careers portal (https://careers.cc-sw.com). This challenge was an original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) ROM our system engineer, Ben, created that hides a “flag” string somewhere in the game. Our company logo is at the top and the player can enter a button combination via the Nintendo controller. If the right combination is entered, it displays the hidden string.

The goal of these reverse engineering challenges, or “capture the flag” puzzles, is to get a sense of a candidate’s problem-solving ability. We are constantly tasked with reverse engineering systems with designs and architectures we’ve never seen before, so puzzles like this offer a fun little insight into the type of work we’re tasked with by our customers every day.

The students seemed very engaged and asked great questions, and we were happy to be able to show off some of the technology we’ve created. It was very nice of Dr. Hamman to host us on campus and give us a small tour, and thanks again to Mr. Reep for the coffee mugs and good information about Cedarville’s student employment and career fair opportunities. Hopefully, the students enjoyed our presentation and it gave them some insight into the cool work that is out there involving cyber operations.