Rochester Institute of Technology wins Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

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Winning team from Rochester Institute of Technology at National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

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(April 22, 2013) -- Rochester Institute of Technology took home the Alamo Cup last weekend at the eighth annual National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC), April 19-21 at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio. Organized by the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS) at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), the NCCDC pitted teams of full-time college students from across the country against each other in an environment where cyber security skills were pushed to the limit.

Dakota State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology also made strong showings at the competition, placing second and third, respectively.

"We developed the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition to raise awareness among college students of the need for more cyber security professionals and to get them to starting thinking of cyber security as a possible career path," said Dwayne Williams, NCCDC director. "In just eight years, the competition has become a recruiting ground for companies who want to hire the best talent colleges have to offer. Past competitors have collectively received thousands of job offers."

Modeled from real-world scenarios and obstacles, the CCDC is the first cyber security competition designed to test how well students operate and manage a network infrastructure, similar to the networks found in the commercial sector. At the start of the competition on Friday, each eight-person team inherited a mock operational network for a fictional correctional institute, complete with prisoner commissary for retail e-commerce, personnel records and jail management software.

Competitors were given minimal information about the network, its security levels and its software. Minutes later, a live Red Team began to actively scan and probe the team's networks. An Orange Team composed of fictional employees, clients and customers contributed new stress to the teams as they struggled to maintain services.

Over the course of the three-day competition, the teams were required to keep up with the operational needs of their jail and their user demands, while maintaining service-level agreements for all of their critical Internet services. When they successfully completed business tasks and maintained services, they earned points.

When they violated service-level agreements, used recovery and restoration usage services, or when the Red Team successfully penetrated their network, they lost points. At the end of the competition, the Rochester Institute of Technology had earned the highest score and the right to take home the coveted Alamo Cup.

In all, 10 teams won their state and/or regional competitions to earn a spot in this year's national championship. Competitors included:

  • University of Alaska, Fairbanks, At-Large Regional CCDC Winner
  • Millersville University (Penn.), Mid-Atlantic Regional Winner
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Ind.), Mid-West Regional Winner
  • Dakota State University (S.D.), North Central Regional Winner
  • Rochester Institute of Technology, Northeast Regional Winner
  • University of Washington, Pacific Rim Regional Winner
  • United States Air Force Academy, Rocky Mountain Regional Winner
  • University of Central Florida, Southeast Regional Winner
  • Oklahoma State University, Southwest Regional Winner
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Western Regional CCDC Winner

Sponsors of the NCCDC recognize the importance of supporting this type of educational competition. Platinum sponsors included the Department of Homeland Security –Science and Technology, Splunk and Walmart.

"As a first-time attendee at the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, I was as impressed with the quality of the event as I was with the talent level of the competitors," said Jerry Geisler, senior director of Walmart security and compliance. "The competitors were exceptional and represented their schools very well. It was a privilege to participate in this year's event and observe the bright minds of these young security practitioners as they competed in these real-life scenarios."

National Level sponsors included the United States Army INSCOM and the Navy's Information Dominance systems command, SPAWAR. Gold sponsors included Juniper Networks, Boeing, Deloitte and McAfee. Silver sponsors include the Air Force Reserve, CORE Security, Goldman Sachs, Trustwave, Trustwave SpiderLabs and NSS Labs.

Other sponsors included BlackBerry, Microsoft, Citrix, Symantec, CobaltStrike, Radiant Logic, OWASP, BridgePoint, Queralt, Lieberman Software, Wolfram Research, University of Washington-Bothell, AFCEA Alamo Chapter, Cyber Defense magazine and CODE magazine.

The threat of cyber attacks targeting the United States is a serious issue at the highest levels of government. The NCCDC provides higher education institutions with information assurance and computer security programs in a competitive environment.

"San Antonio boasts one of our nation's largest military contingents," said Gregory White, CIAS director. "Students who participate in these kinds of competitions are at the forefront of the war on terror. Cyber terrorism is very real. Each day, our federal government and commercial sectors are at risk. Our competition provides the necessary foundation for students to implement what they've learned to serve a higher calling as key defenders against cyber terrorism and maintain the security of our networks."