Today's Exercise - 'Save us from Malicious Hackers'

Today's Exercise - 'Save us from Malicious Hackers'

Our virtual classroom-based module ‘scripting for biology -1’ is going live today. The students are given the task of saving the server from one or more malicious hackers, who are trying to break into it. This is not an imaginary task, and students will be given the actual system log, from which they will search for the IP addresses of real attacker(s) trying to hack into the server.

For this, they will need to get familiar with the common UNIX commands and also the rules for regular expressions. The bigger purpose of this exercise is to teach students about pattern matching and regular expressions, which are at the core of most scripting languages. Moreover, regular expressions are very useful in bioinformatics.

The end of the day exercise will be to look for an important long RNA in the microbial genomes. This RNA cannot be identified through use of BLAST, and it is important to use pattern matching rules to search for it. I do not expect the students to solve this problem right now, but hopefully by the end of the module, when they learn enough programming.

If you like to join next month’s module, please email pandora at We are building online virtual classroom-based modules on bioinformatics. Each module will have a small class-size (~10), who will be working with an instructor to solve problems in the cloud account provided by us. The method of teaching is chat-based and each student will be given increasingly difficult problems based on what he/she did so far.

I will post the feedback from the first module here after the completion of the module.

Written by M. //