RIT places second in 2014 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

Two students take first-place in new Panoply network attack and defense competition

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The first place trophy for the Panoply event, an optional competition at the 2014 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, where participants have to take control of servers and hold them for as long as possible.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s cyber defense team placed second at the 2014 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition held April 25-27 in San Antonio. Two RIT students also took first place in the Panoply event, a capture-the-flag-style network attack and defense competition.

As the 2013 national champions, RIT sought to defend its title against nine other regional winners at the annual competition, dubbed the “big dance of data defense.” Starting with more than 180 teams in the competition, RIT’s student team placed second in between first-place University of Central Florida and third-place University of Alaska Fairbanks.

During the two-day competition, teams work straight from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. fending off cyber attacks while completing other tasks. In this year’s scenario, students were tasked to maintain services for online games, such as Minecraft, Unreal Tournament, Medal of Honor, Quake II, Ventrilo and Teamspeak.

The teams were required to keep up with the operational needs of their business and user demands while maintaining service level agreements for all of their critical Internet and game services. When they successfully completed business tasks and maintained services, the team earned points. Points were taken from their score when teams violated service level agreements, used recovery and restoration services or when the team of government and industry cyber experts, known as the Red Team, successfully penetrated a team’s network and systems.

“Many of the competition officials, also known as the White Team, noted how well our team worked together,” said Bo Yuan, an associate professor of computing security and coach of the RIT student team. “For next year, I think we need to learn more defensive techniques and better troubleshooting methodologies.”

In the optional Panoply event, a capture-the-flag-style competition that goes from 10 p.m. Saturday to 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, RIT students Jaime Geiger and Bryan Harmat took home the first-place trophy, along with two members of the Red Team. For the new competition, a team of four members attacked other teams’ systems and networks, scoring points for how many systems they could successfully take over and defend.

“Our team was in second for most of the competition, but with 45 minutes left I decided to run a script that I was writing for another competition in a few weeks,” said Harmat. “We managed to capture and secure 25 more machines, helping us win the Panoply trophy.”

The RIT student team is made up of captain Benjamin Andrews, a computing security graduate student from Harpursville, N.Y.; Stanley Chan, a fourth-year computing security student from Brooklyn, N.Y.; Zuhdi Abdelkarim, a fourth-year computing security student from Orange County, Calif.; Bryan Harmat, a third-year computing security student from Worcester, Mass.; Brian Seifert, a fourth-year computing security student from Norwood, N.Y.; Jared Stroud, a third-year computing security student from Pike, N.Y.; Joseph Hasselstrom, a fourth-year computing security student from Victor, N.Y.; and Jaime Geiger, a third-year computing security student from Sterling, Mass.

Other participants in the national competition included United States Air Force Academy, Dakota State University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Southern Methodist University, Western Washington University, University of California Berkeley, Townson University, Northern Kentucky University and University of Central Florida.