Best colleges to face-off at international offensive cybersecurity competition finals at RIT

Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition International Finals to be held Nov. 22-24
'Collegiate Pentesting Competition (CPTC) logo.'

Teams from the nation’s top 10 cybersecurity universities are coming to RIT Nov. 22-24 to face-off in the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) International Finals.

The winners of the world’s largest collegiate offensive-based cybersecurity competition will be crowned at the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition finals Nov. 22–24 at Rochester Institute of Technology.

In October, approximately 300 elite cybersecurity students gathered at six regional events across the globe to compete in the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) regionals.

The top 10 collegiate teams have moved on and will face-off in the weekend-long CPTC International Finals. Participating teams are:

  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • Penn State University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai
  • Stanford University
  • University at Buffalo
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Virginia
  • United States Air Force Academy
  • Virginia Commonwealth University

The CPTC has become the premier offense-based collegiate computing security event, after starting at RIT five years ago. CPTC is an effective counterpart to the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC), which is the premier defense-based event for college students.

“With generous support from sponsors, advisor, and volunteers, CPTC has evolved to become the world’s largest simulation infrastructure devoted to offensive security,” said Justin Pelletier, director of CPTC and a lecturer in RIT’s computing security department. “Cybersecurity competitions are an important mechanism for training and evaluation; these competitions address broad and deep cybersecurity workforce development needs.”

The event helps students build and hone the skills needed for a job in the cybersecurity industry — an industry that currently has a severe shortage of qualified professionals. RIT is also addressing the critical workforce needs in cybersecurity by also creating a Global Cybersecurity Institute (GCI). The new three-story facility is expected to open in fall 2020 and will allow RIT to address the global cybersecurity crisis by conducting groundbreaking research, education and professional training and development.

For CPTC, students attempt to break into computer networks created for the competition, evaluate their weak points and offer plans to better secure them. The competition allows students to experience a day in the life of a penetration tester—the security professionals hired to test and evaluate an organization’s computer systems and networks to ensure that malicious hackers can’t get in.

During the competition, teams of up to six students will interrogate a mock-company’s network. The following morning, they will present a report to the judges on their findings and offer their suggestions for mitigating risk. The whole event is set up to mimic how penetration testing consulting happens in the real world.

“Teams do best when they efficiently prioritize vulnerabilities and exploits, capture effective documentation and make compelling recommendations that address business impact,” said Pelletier.

Judges and sponsors from the security industry will evaluate the performance of the competitors while under fire. Students will have the opportunity to meet experts and hand out résumés. Sponsors include IBM Security, Google Cloud, Eaton and FireEye, among others.

In this year’s regional and national scenarios, the target is DinoBank, a mock financial services and cryptocurrency company. Each team had the opportunity to exploit and provide risk management recommendations for several hundred hosts across five subnets. Regional placements included:

New England U.S. Regional — Hosted by University of New Haven

  • 1st Place: Rochester Institute of Technology
  • 2nd Place: University of Texas at Austin
  • 3rd Place: Drexel University

Northeastern U.S. Regional — Hosted by Penn State University

  • 1st Place: University of Virginia
  • 2nd Place: Penn State University
  • 3rd Place: Virginia Commonwealth University

Southeastern U.S. Regional — Hosted by Augusta University

  • 1st Place: University of Central Florida
  • 2nd Place: University of Florida 
  • 3rd Place: Kennesaw State University

Central U.S. Regional — Hosted by Tennessee Tech

  • 1st Place: United States Air Force Academy
  • 2nd Place: University of Tulsa
  • 3rd Place: Southern Methodist University

Western U.S. Regional — Hosted by Stanford University

  • 1st Place: Stanford University
  • 2nd Place: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • 3rd Place: City College of San Francisco

Middle-Eastern International — Hosted by RIT Dubai

  • 1st Place: Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai
  • 2nd Place: University of Wollongong in Dubai

The finals will be held in RIT’s Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. More information is available on the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition website.


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