Baker College Students Win 4th National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

Apr 23, 2009

Team Successfully Defends Baker’s Cyber Defense Championship Title

In an intense, three-day-long competition that included fighting back cyber assaults, Baker College of Flint IT students won the fourth annual Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition held in San Antonio, Texas, April 17-19. The team successfully defended Baker’s position as the reigning national champion against heavyweights like Texas A&M and six other prestigious colleges and universities from around the country.

Baker College of Flint was one of 65 schools competing this year, and by winning the Midwest regional competition, one of eight teams that earned the privilege to compete nationally. The competition centered on real-life information technology tasks related to managing and protecting an existing network infrastructure.

“We couldn’t be more delighted,” said Julianne T. Princinsky, E.D., Baker College of Flint president. “The hard work and determination demonstrated by these students was nothing short of impressive.”

The eight competitors from Baker College of Flint were:

  • Brandon Hladysh, team captain, of Lapeer
  • Ryan Noblett, of Lapeer
  • James Olson, of Flint
  • Matt Wheatley, of Birch Run
  • Larry Hubbard, of Flint
  • Eric Ignash, of Elkton
  • Tommy Hamilton, of Goodrich
  • Rory Gallagher, of San Francisco, California

Teams were assigned an operational network from a fictional business and given just one hour to become familiar with the assigned system and to begin security updates and patches before fighting off cyber assaults from “red team” hackers. Each team was scored on their ability to defend against attacks, correct network problems and perform routine information technology tasks.

Despite a specially designed attack against their assigned network involving custom exploit code, Baker beat out the other schools for the high score, according to Van Scott, cyber defense team advisor and computer information systems instructor at Baker College of Flint.

“These students worked extremely hard and deserve a lot of credit for rising to this difficult challenge. This was not part of their regular class work,” said Scott. “Competition organizers were very impressed with our team’s performance. In addition to winning, some members of the team have positive leads on prestigious internships in Washington, DC, as a result of their participation and performance.”

Scott was quick to point out that according to competition guest speaker Brenda Oldfield, director of education, training and workforce development for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), DHS now considers cyber defense to be the most important aspect of national defense. In her remarks, Oldfield noted it would be possible for ten skilled people to shut down our entire power grid in twenty minutes.

“Those are precisely the type of security threats we’re training our students to combat,” said Scott.

In 2008, Baker College of Flint defeated defending champion Texas A&M University and four other regional winners from across the country to capture first place in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

The National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) is the first cyber defense competition allowing teams of full-time collegiate students from across the country to apply their information assurance and technology education in a competitive environment. CCDC competitions are unique because they focus on business operations and incorporate the operation aspect of managing and protecting an existing “commercial” network infrastructure. Students also have the opportunity to network with industry professionals.

In the competition simulation, students are “hired” as the network and security administrators at a small company, compete with e-mail, Web sites, data files, and users. They enter the job knowing very little about the network, what security level has been maintained or what software has been installed. Even as they fend off cyber attacks, the students must keep up with the needs of the business and user demands while maintaining service level agreements for all critical Internet services.

CCDC provides a unique opportunity for students and industry professionals to interact and discuss many of the security and operational challenges the students will face when they enter the job market.

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition allows institutions of higher education offering an information assurance or computer security curriculum to assess students’ depth of understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting an enterprise network infrastructure and business information systems.

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