By Scott Bureau
Third time’s the charm for Rochester Institute of Technology’s cyber defense team. After being bested in the finals for two years in a row, an RIT team took home the first-place trophy for the first time ever at the 2013 National Collegiate CyberDefense Competition.
RIT competed against nine other regional winners at the eighth annual national competition held April 19-21 in San Antonio. In RIT’s fourth trip to nationals in six years, the student team beat second-place Dakota State University and third-place Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the largest college-level cyber defense competition in the United States.
In this year’s scenario, students were tasked to take over the IT department of a correctional facility. Their goals were to:
• Keep network systems and Web services up, such as DNS, https and emails
• Complete business injects, also known as service requests
• Defend their network and systems from attacking security experts, called the Red Team
• Provide customer support to the Orange team, constituted by volunteers pretending to be relatives of inmates inundating the team with various requests
“Superstars don’t really help in this type of competition,” says Bo Yuan, an associate professor of computing security and coach of the RIT student team. “It requires coordinated effort to distribute workload wisely and evenly, and takes a disciplined approach to share information and complete tasks on time.”
During the two-day competition, teams work straight from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. fending off cyber attacks while also completing the other tasks.
“You actually have someone bring you lunch so you can eat it while working,” says Benjamin Andrews, the team’s captain. “It’s a ton of work to prepare for the competition, but it’s worth it because you always learn something new in the cyber security field.”
“Our students understand the technologies involved, but also know how to work as a team to accomplish goals that are too large for any single individual,” says Andrew Sears, dean of RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. “We created a new Department of Computing Security this year to provide a focal point for these very activities and to highlight the opportunities that exist for students interested in cyber security.”
The RIT student team is made up of Scott Smith, a fourth-year computer security student from Orchard Park, N.Y.;Bryan Delaney, a networking and system administration graduate student from Brecksville, Ohio; Cory Baker, a fourth-year computing security student from Akron, N.Y.; Stanley Chan, a third-year computing security student from Brooklyn, N.Y.; Lucas Duffey, a fourth-year computing security student from Seekonk, Mass.; Brian Seifert, a third-year computing security student from Norwood, N.Y.; Bryan Harmat, a second-year computing security student from Worcester, Mass.; and Benjamin Andrews, a computing security graduate student from Harpursville, N.Y.
Other participants in the national competition included University of Alaska Fairbanks, Millersville University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Dakota State University, University of Washington, United States Air Force Academy, University of Central Florida, Oklahoma State University and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.