Thursday, February 27, 2020

UTSA kicks off cybersecurity month with tournament

UTSA kicks off cybersecurity month with tournament

The top three finishers of the 2018 Cyber Threat Defender Tournament celebrate their victory.

Oct. 3, 2019 — Defending a computer network against cyberattacks while building up an organization’s assets and providing security training events may appear to be a typical day’s work for a cybersecurity professional, but for middle- and high-school students throughout San Antonio, those are standard attack and defense moves used in the card game Cyber Threat Defender.

On Oct. 5 the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security will kick off National Cybersecurity Awareness Month with a full day of activities as part of Cyber Day. Players will use their cybersecurity skills against one another in the second citywide Cyber Threat Defender Tournament in San Antonio to determine who is the ultimate cyber threat defender.

The game’s goal is simple. Build a network as quickly as possible so the player can “do more business” and gain more points. While building a network, a player’s opponent will try to disrupt their systems and network. Some attacks will infiltrate their data while others can cause hardware failure. This game teaches players that for every cyber threat there is a defense. The winner will be the competitor with the highest cumulative points earned in all rounds.

“The idea behind Cyber Threat Defender is rooted in the concept that the player with the most complete set of security defenses will be the one who is able to protect their critical systems and emerge victorious,” said Larry Sjelin, director of game development at the CIAS.


The main focus for each player is cybersecurity strategy. Many players are introduced to CTD in their school’s classroom, where technology and cybersecurity are incorporated into their STEM curriculum. Strategies are built on how asset, defense, event and attack cards interact, whether they build up, tear down or defend a network. 

“Since launching CTD in 2016 the CIAS has distributed the game to more than 350 schools and individuals across 35 states and nine countries,” Sjelin said. “However, we’ve also received a very positive response from industries that enjoy using the game to provide cybersecurity training to their employees. We hope this second citywide tournament will help provide an interactive platform to hone a player’s understanding of defense implementation and reinforce their cybersecurity training.”

While CTD is an easy-to-play, engaging game regardless of age or skill level, players should come ready to compete with basic knowledge of the game. Prior to the tournament, players are encouraged to download the free game directly to their PC to practice and learn strategies. The game can be downloaded for free.

The Cyber Threat Defender Tournament is presented by the CIAS and is being hosted at the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In addition to the tournament, the CIAS and the museum are engaging organizations throughout San Antonio to create complementary cyber activities for players and their families throughout the day. Participating organizations include Port San Antonio, Coder Dojo and the CyberTexas Foundation.

Registration is $5, but space is limited. Each player will receive a complimentary set of CTD playing cards with booster pack, a tournament game mat and a T-shirt.

>> Register for the Cyber Threat Defender tournament

CTD Tournament sponsors include Sastemic, Alamo ISSA and St. Philip’s College Cyber P-TECH.

Julina Macy

Learn more about the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security.

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