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CIAS competition
2007 cyber defense competition

UTSA hosts third national cyber defense competition

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(April 18, 2008)--The UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), a nationally recognized leader in cyber security education and research, will host the third annual National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) April 18-20 at the Hilton San Antonio Airport hotel. At the competition, Texas A&M University will defend its national champion title against five teams.

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition has grown from five participating schools in 2005 to 56 schools in 2008 with six regional competitions across the nation. The 2008 national competition will feature the 2007 defending champions, Texas A&M University, along with Baker College of Flint, Mich., the Community College of Baltimore County, Mt. San Antonio College of Los Angeles County, Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Louisville. Participants advanced to NCCDC after winning regional competitions against teams in the Southwest, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and West Coast regions.

CCDC is sponsored in part through donations from leading businesses in the communications and information technology industries.

"AT&T has always put an emphasis on technology and education," said John T. Montford, AT&T president, Western region. "We are proud to support the NCCDC's competition that encourages students to find new and innovative ideas that benefit companies like AT&T and partner with UTSA to work toward an ever-advancing field of network security."

The CCDC program is the first cyber defense competition allowing teams of full-time college students from across the country to apply their information assurance and information technology education in a competitive environment. CCDC competitions are unique because they focus on business operations and incorporate the operational aspect of managing and protecting an existing network infrastructure.

The teams will inherit an "operational" network from a fictional business complete with e-mail, Web sites, data files and users. "We had many visiting faculty members benefit from last year's national competition, as they experienced first-hand what it would be like to have to protect a company's infrastructure in a hostile Internet environment," said Greg White, CIAS director. "Some of the faculty even changed their instructional programs as a result of lessons learned from the competition."

Each team in the competition must correct problems on their network, perform typical business tasks and defend their network from a red team that generates live, hostile activity throughout the competition. The teams will be scored on performance in the three areas, and the team with the highest score will be the NCCDC champion.

"Acronis is proud to once again be sponsoring such an important event," said Stephen Lawton, Acronis senior director of strategic marketing. "Tomorrow's IT leaders need to understand not only networking best practices, but also be able to take emerging technologies and create new best practices. These are among the best and the brightest up-and-coming network administrators in the country. While Acronis is expert at restoring failed systems, these are the administrators who must be expert at disaster prevention."

Students in the competition use hardware and software donated by IT industry leaders, providing students the opportunity to work with technologies not seen in a typical classroom.

"Up-and-coming network administrators and IT leaders are expanding their level of expertise and awareness at the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition," said Mike Yafee of Core Security Technologies. "Core Security Technologies is proud to sponsor an event that helps prepare the students for what they will experience beyond the typical classroom setting, helping them reach their full potential."

NCCDC is sponsored in part through donations and volunteer support from the AT&T Foundation, Department of Homeland Security, Cisco Systems, Acronis, Northrop Grumman, Accenture, Information Systems Security Association, Core Security, ThinkGeek, Code Magazine and Pepsi.

For more information, visit the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Web site or contact CIAS at (210) 458-2118.

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About the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security

Established in 2001, CIAS leverages San Antonio's infrastructure assurance strengths and bolsters research and educational initiatives in the field. The multidisciplinary research center is a partnership between academia, the information technology security industry and the local Air Intelligence Agency. CIAS addresses the technical and policy issues of information assurance and security and provides educational training.

In 2002-2003, CIAS led the highly successful Dark Screen cyber terrorism exercise for San Antonio, bringing national attention as the first city in the nation to conduct such an event. Over the last three years, CIAS was awarded more than $8 million through defense appropriations to support community cybersecurity defend-and-attack exercises and infrastructure assurance and security research.

CIAS personnel have conducted exercises for various critical infrastructure information sharing and analysis centers as well as for states and communities around the nation. In February 2008, CIAS personnel participated in the Department of Homeland Security's CyberStorm II National Cyber Security Exercise in Washington, D.C.

UTSA is the first Texas university with the national "Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education" designation by the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency. The designation means UTSA's curriculum and faculty meet or exceed national standards to teach information-assurance security.

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