RIT wins regional cyber defense competition

Student team will travel to San Antonio to compete in national competition

RIT took first place in the Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. The win gives RIT an automatic bid in the national tournament April 24-26 in San Antonio, Texas.

A team of Rochester Institute of Technology students took first place for the fifth year in a row at the annual Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition March 20-23 in Syracuse, N.Y.

The annual event is part of the largest college-level cyber defense competition, an extracurricular event that helps to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts. The competition gives student teams the opportunity to assume responsibility for the information technology operations of a simulated organization, allowing them to apply cyber defense skills in a real-world scenario.

The win gives RIT an automatic berth in the 2015 national competition April 24–26 in San Antonio, Texas. RIT’s cyber defense team is a perennial contender at the national competition, placing second in 2014 and winning in 2013.

“I compete in the competition because I enjoy developing the strategies for how to defend against the attackers,” said Bryan Harmat, a fourth-year computing security student and captain of the RIT team. “This is my third year on the team and it has been fun every year.”

For the competition, a group of industry professionals from companies including Raytheon, CrowdStrike and Dell, are assigned to break into computer networks to exploit information from a mock company. Teams of students are hired by the company to prevent that information theft from occurring.

Teams were scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, maintain existing services, respond to business requests such as the addition or removal of services, and balance security needs with business needs.

“Communication is the most important part of the CCDC,” said Harmat. “Anytime you make changes on your system that may affect what other people are doing, you have to let the team know what you are about to do.”

Other participants in the regional competition included Champlain College, Northeastern University, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Syracuse University, University of Buffalo SUNY, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts Boston and University of New Hampshire.

The RIT student team is made up of Harmat, who is from Worcester, Mass.; Ian Flournoy, a third-year applied networking and systems administration student from Rochester, N.Y.; Michael Salsone, a fourth-year computing security student from Rockville Centre, N.Y.; Scott Vincent, a fourth-year computing security student from Schenectady, N.Y.; Jaime Geiger, a fourth-year computing security student from Sterling, Mass.; Edward Mead, a fourth-year computing security student from Rochester, N.Y.; Jared Stroud, a fourth-year computing security student from Pike, N.Y.; Tyler Fornes, a computing security graduate student from Springville, N.Y.; Tommy Chin, a computing security graduate student from Scarborough, Maine; Stanley Chan, a fourth-year computing security student from Brooklyn, N.Y.; Corinne Smith, a third-year computing security major from Elverson, Pa.; and Benjamin Bornholm, a second-year computing security major from Royersford, Pa.

The RIT team is coached by Bill Stackpole, associate professor of computing security, and Bo Yuan, associate professor and chair of RIT’s Department of Computing Security.

RIT will compete for the national title in April with other regional winners, including Southern Utah University, University of Nebraska Kearney, University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Texas at San Antonio. Five more regional winners will be determined before the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

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