ECU team competes in Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

CyberTwelve ECU students competed in the first round of the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition on Tuesday, Feb. 12, defending a virtual IT infrastructure from attack. Eight of the 34 teams from schools in the mid-Atlantic region will advance to regional competition.

The theme of this year’s competition centers on an intergalactic mission to defend eight robotic exploration systems dispatched to the eight moons of the dwarf planets in our solar system by the Space Unification Project, Bureau of Research and Heliosphere. The Space Force teams are expected to maintain the operational efficiencies of numerous data systems used to communicate and operate the Optimus Prime Rovers as well as many other operational systems used to support the project.

“All the machines have security vulnerabilities, and their task is to keep those services up and going,” said Phil Lunsford, associate professor of technology systems. “During that time, there will be active attackers – professional penetration testers – who are attacking the machines to bring down those services.”

In addition, new tasks or challenges can be added during the competition, which runs for approximately five hours. During that time, no one else is allowed in the room. “Not even me,” Lunsford said.Cyber

“First they have to harden the systems – find security vulnerabilities they have, turn off services that aren’t needed, update the systems, change user passwords, delete users that aren’t needed,” Lunsford said. “Then they have to monitor and keep things up, identify problems and solve them. So it’s a real world situation where you inherit this system … (and you have to) make everything work.”

The goal of the competition is to provide hands-on experience for the students, allowing them to apply the theory and skills they have learned in their coursework, as well as fostering teamwork, ethical behavior and effective communication skills.

This year’s ECU team includes team captain Alex Hardt, Pete Cornelius, Nick Hempenius, Dylan Kerkhoff, Omar Murad, Charlie Tanner, Harrison Thaxton, Alan Tromba, and alternates Jon Harrison, Paul Hayes, Chandler Helms and Isaiah Minor.