For most college students Saturday morning is a time to sleep in, catchup with friends, or organize weekend activities, but last Saturday morning 64 dedicated students turned their back on the usual pursuits to defend the nation against malware at the Mid-Atlantic Region Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Eight teams from universities in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware hunkered down at the Johns Hopkins Applied Research Lab’s Kossiakoff Center in Laurel, Maryland to see who could best defend a network from multiple real-world cyber attacks.
While the Red Team hackers readied their malware in one room, the collegiate teams, known as the Blue Teams, assembled to monitor their networks and mitigate the attacks in another part of the building. The teams from the University of Maryland, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Liberty University, Towson University, Drexel University, Wilmington University, Frederick Community College, and Delaware Technical Community College, were awarded points for avoiding network downtime, maintaining a resilient network, and executing effective remediation strategies if and when they were compromised.
Dave Wajsgras president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, which is a National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition title sponsor, commented at the event that, “The students are operating really well in a highly stressful environment.” He continued, “…with backgrounds in management information systems, math, computer science, and business, there’s no doubt that they are cyber savvy, but it’s a different experience to put theoretical knowledge into practice with real-world simulation. It’s impressive how well the teams are continuing to perform over several hours of intense cyber defense.”
After four hours of competition, the team from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, demonstrated the highest proficiency in defending the network and was awarded first place in the Mid-Atlantic regional competition. “These cyber defense competitions and other events like the Pentagon’s recent hackathon are critical to national security,” noted Wajsgras at the close of the event. “Every day cyberattacks are causing economic and security problems for citizens, corporations, and the government, so it’s vital that we invest in the next-generation of cyber defenders, like the young men and women who competed today.” Wajsgras continued, “…as digital natives, this generation is already aware of the importance of cybersecurity and I’m truly impressed with the skills that were on-show today. Now, it’s our responsibility to focus on continuing to educate this next-generation of cyber defenders so that they’re ready to meet the myriad threats we know we’ll face in the future.”
The team from University of Maryland Baltimore County will be competing at the National College Cyber Defense Competition in San Antonio, Texas from April 14-16, 2017. You can follow the competition on Facebook and on Twitter.