September 25, 2018

UAT Network Security Team Qualifies for Western Regional CCDC

UAT CCDC Team Qualifies for Regionals.jpg

UAT Cyber Security students finished in 4th place at the CCDC Virtual Qualifier over the weekend securing them a spot at Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (WRCCDC) on March 24-26, 2017, at the Cal Poly Pomona Bronco Center. UAT students are far from newbs to this competition, as UAT took 2nd place at 2016 WRCCDC.

In the zone…

UAT’s roster of 11 students including the eight selected participants and three alternates locked themselves in the Cyber Warfare Range an hour prior to competing, in order to brainstorm strategies, review items of interest, and discuss tactics if certain issues arise. It’s wise to be prepared and have a cohesive game plan for the entire team, especially when working under a time crunch!

Cyber Security Professor Wayne Kibbe acted as faculty coach for UAT’s team and Professor Abby Pfeiffer served as a remote site judge during the virtual qualifier to uphold general rules of the competition.

Professor Kibbe said, “Watching our hard-working students get rewarded for their efforts was very exciting and made me very proud. The tension at the end waiting for the scores to be finalized was incredible. It was like watching your favorite politician win on election night. When the scores were announced, the Cyber Warfare Range was filled with high-fives, shouting, and celebration. Now, on to Regionals!”

“It was an experience, that’s for sure. It was a bit more nerve-wracking than expected, I had a lot of fun, but it reminded me of how much I still don’t know about the industry and how much I still need to work on.” – Robert Thompson, Junior

Senior David Savlowitz mentioned there is a selection process for being accepted to the CCDC team at UAT, which is taken very seriously. Veteran members of the CCDC team take a vote on which Network Security students have highly expressed dedication to the topic in order to form the new team. With his experience at CCDC, David has sized up the competition and suspected that the UAT had what it would take to qualify this year.

Network Security students participate in the CCDC Qualifier

Network Security students participate in the CCDC Qualifier

Savlowitz said, “Some of the other teams are really good at designing the networks and troubleshooting them, but aren’t as experienced in actively defending them. At UAT we proactively work weekly on these topics. Another drill that the freshman hate, but then start to love are the “red vs. blue challenges,” where freshman battle the seniors. “It’s fun right?” “Yeah, when I’m not bashing my head against the desk, but it’s helpful for learning how to defend against someone trying to get in,” said Freshman Adam Morris, a CCDC team alternate.

During the competition, it’s important to stay organized and effectively communicate with team members.

“Each member of UAT’s team has a primary responsibility or specialty, whether its extensive knowledge of Linux, Windows or another operating system, there is an expert that the team can rely on,” said Savlowitz.

What is CCDC?

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition was created in 2004 by a group of educators, students, government and industry representatives who had interest in developing an event to engage post-secondary level students in regular cyber security exercises.

CCDC is a 3-day event and the first ever competition that specifically focuses on the operational aspect of managing and protecting an existing “commercial” network infrastructure. Not only do students get a chance to test their knowledge in an operational environment, they have the opportunity to experience real time incident response.

Preparing for the CCDC Virtual Qualifier in the UAT Cyber Warfare Range

Preparing for the CCDC Virtual Qualifier in the UAT Cyber Warfare Range

Only 8 teams from the WRCCDC Qualifier make it to the face-to-face regional. From the Regional competitors only the winning team gets an all expense paid trip to National CCDC.

The CCDC competition asks student teams to assume administrative and protective duties for an existing commercial network – typically a medium business with 50+ users, 8 to 16 servers, and common network services such as a web, E-mail and e-commerce. Each team begins the competition with an identical set of hardware and software for their fictitious business and teams are scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, maintain availability of existing services and respond to business requests such as the addition or removal of services or hardware, balancing security needs against business needs.

Here’s the scenario:

You have just been hired as the network and security administrators at a small company and will be taking administrative control of all information systems. You know very little about the network, what security level has been maintained, or what software has been installed. You have one hour to familiarize yourself with the network and systems and to begin the security updates and patches before the red team starts actively attacking your company, you must also have to keep up with the needs of the business and user demands while maintaining service level agreements for all critical Internet services.

The Winners are…

Here are the top 8 qualifying teams who will move on the WRCCDC Competition on March 24-26, 2017, at the Cal Poly Pomona Bronco Center.

1. California State University, Northridge
2. Stanford University
3. University of California, Riverside
4. University of Advancing Technology
5. Cal Poly Pomona
6. Arizona State Sun Devils
7. UC Berkeley

Congratulations everyone! We look forward to competing in March.


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