PhD candidates and faculty selected as winning team for the 2024 Siemens Tech Sustainabilitiy through Cybersecurity Challenge

Professor and students gather for group photo.
Left to right: Amal Alshehri (PhD Candidate), Dr. Cihan Tunc (Assistant Professor), Burak Tufekci (PhD Candidate)

On March 14, 2024, research from our Network Security Lab received the winning team award for the 2024 Siemen’s Tech Sustainability through Cybersecurity Challenge. PhD candidates, Amal Alshehri and Burak Tufekci, as well as Assistant Professor, Dr. Cihan Tunc, were one of the finalist research groups (out of 22 projects) and their project “OTZET: Operational Technology Zero Trust Engine for Trustworthiness” has been selected as the winning project during Siemens’ international competition.

The group’s project underwent 4 stages of review consisting of a 4-month timeframe. The first stage, Ideation, occurred during the month of December 2023, saw a large pool of research ideas submitted by universities and companies around the world. Then, the selected projects ideas were implemented under Siemens’ guidance. And the final review was made in March 2024 for the selected finalists, which allowed our team to present and win the competition under the sustainability through cybersecurity track during the final Hackathon & Live Pitches stage last month. The audience consisted of respected professionals in cybersecurity, as well as those in academia, with potential of future collaboration or sponsorship.

Here’s what Siemens outlines as their goals for their Cybersecurity challenge in Sustainability: At Siemens, we consider cybersecurity as one of the company’s sustainability goals. We live in an ever-evolving environment filled with digital threats and risks. Only through robust cybersecurity can we effectively address those risks. This includes safeguarding information and intellectual property by preventing digital attacks from materializing in the real world, or by supporting businesses and production sites to operate without disruptions.

Network Security Laboratory students and Dr. Cihan Tunc in discussion with visiting distinguished speaker, Dr. Abdella Battou from NIST, April 2024. 

The OTZET project continues on as the Network Security Lab crew are moving forward with more paper submissions and more advances in their work. Dr. Cihan Tunc states, “We’re looking to build this research for further progression. [Amal Alshehri] is doing this for her final research.”

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering extends a huge congratulations to Amal Alshehri, Burak Tufekci, and Dr. Cihan Tunc on a job well done! 


For more information on the Network Security Lab and the Smart CyberSpace group, check out their website links here: 

Home | Network Security Lab (NSL) (

Welcome to Smart CyberSpace (SCS) at UNT | Smart Cyber Space (SCS)

For more information on Siemens, click here to access their website: Sustainability through cybersecurity | Siemens Innovation Ecosystem