Eight information security students attended and competed in the 2014 Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NECCDC) at the University of New Hampshire on March 14-16. Accompanied by coach, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity Duane Dunston, and assistant coach Dave Long, the students competed for three days against nine other schools.
The Champlain team placed second behind RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) took third. The team this year did a great job and received lots of praise about how well the team works together. In the past, Champlain students have always been given compliments for having great teamwork skills, cordial to each other, and following rules – and great technical skills.
Students who participated in the competition include DJ Palombo, Tyler Schena, Grant Kaiser, Matt Morin, Ben Virgilio, Patrick Jones, Hunter Gregal, and Kevin Law. The students did all the work to prepare for this competition.
“Matt Morin, senior CNIS major, did a stellar job as the team’s captain with organizing the practices and selecting the team that participated this year,” said Dunston. “They started back in October and took over Skiff lab each Tuesday and Thursday night from 8:30 p.m. till around 10:30 p.m. setting up various Operating Systems and applications to prepare this year and it paid off.”
They did not know what Operating Systems they would be presented with until they arrived at the competition. The first day during the showdown, the team worked from 8 until 11 a.m., and the second day started at 9 a.m. and had to withstand cyber attacks for about eight hours.
NECCDC is designed to test students’ skills in defending computer systems. The two-day competition features a Red Team, made up of some of the top security professionals in the industry. They are the “White Hat Hackers,” meaning security researchers. They are the ones that find security vulnerabilities and responsibly report their findings to the vendor so it can be fixed in a timely manner. They also develop tools and techniques to help protect computer systems.
During the competition, students are given “injects.” The injects are there to add additional stress, test their skills, and challenge their teamwork. They also have to create reports and policies during and following the competition. The reports have to be written for a non-technical reader, so the students need to have more than technical skills, but be able to properly and clearly communicate what they are doing.
They receive points for successfully defending the system, finding malware, and writing good reports – including good grammar. They can also lose points if they break any rules, which are monitored by White Team members, don’t find malware, or improperly defend their systems.
There were a great deal of recruiters from various agencies at NECCDC waiting to hire interns and employees, so it is a great event to be involved in and provided an opportunity for students to network.