Western Washington University Cyber Defense Team to Go to National Competition in Texas April 25-27
Contact: Perry Fizzano, chair, Western Washington University Dept. of Computer Science, at Perry.Fizzano@wwu.edu or (360) 650-3807.
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University’s team is going to the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) on April 25 – 27 in San Antonio, Texas after winning the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition regional at Highline Community College in March.
In the CCDC competition, the group of students is told they are replacing the information technology team of a fictional company. They must carry on various business-related IT tasks – setting up databases, e-mail servers, and the like, while next door, a team of hackers called the Red Team is attempting to compromise these same services.
“It was intense, and very fast-paced,” said Katie Klions, a Computer Science major from Silverdale. “While you are working to protect your infrastructure, the Red Team is working to bring it down. Winning the competition comes down to which team can not only defend against the initial intrusions, but repair the damage done quickly while at the same time preventing the Red Team from coming back and doing it again.”
The Red Team is brought in by the competition’s organizers, and is made up of cybersecurity professionals from the military, government, and industry.
This is the first time that Western has sent a team to the nationals, where it will be in a field of 10 teams including squads from the University of California at Berkeley, the Air Force Academy, and Southern Methodist University.
Cybersecurity is a growing field, as evidenced by the breach of Target’s databases over the holidays, resulting in the theft of millions of credit card numbers.
“The urgent and massive need for computer-security professionals has caught the government, industry and education sectors quite unprepared. Corporations such as Target are suddenly finding that large-scale compromise of their information systems and customers’ personal data is not just an embarrassment, but a significant threat to their commercial viability,” said David Bover, associate dean of Western’s College of Sciences and Technology.
Bover said there is currently a need for thousands of suitably qualified computer security professionals but very few colleges and universities in the nation have the faculty and academic programs to make a significant impact on this shortage in the workforce.
“There is no evidence that corporations in Washington state are any better prepared than Target,” he said.
Western’s CCDC team is made up of Klions; Troy Tornow of Spokane; co-captain Aaron Griffin of Stanwood; Tim Sargent of Bremerton; Mark Shipley of Silverdale; Rémi Gattaz of Montbonnot, St. Martin, France; Michael Hennings of Kingston; and James Collins of Conway.
Klions said they are deep in preparations for the nationals later this month in San Antonio.
“The key to our success in the Pacific Rim competition was communication. We were able to communicate extremely well, and everyone knew their jobs and roles,” she said. “If we can keep those lines of communications up, I think we’ll do well at nationals.”
For more information on Western’s involvement in the NCCDC, contact Perry Fizzano at Perry.Fizzano@wwu.edu or (360) 650-3807.