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Students Place Third in Cyber Defense Competition

A team of students from the UF Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) has taken third place in the Southeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC). Of 33 teams that competed at the 2017 Virtual Preliminary Qualification Competition on Feb. 25, the UF team was one of eight selected to advance to the regional competition.

The students are part of the UF Student InfoSec Team (UFSIT), which provides “an environment for students to learn more about information security topics such as penetration testing, reverse engineering, exploit development, etc.” Eight out of 12 team members from UFSIT attended the competition. All students are majoring in either computer science or computer engineering and range in academic levels from freshman to graduate student.

“Playing in CCDC is an excellent way expand one’s knowledge beyond the classroom for managing networks, machines and business needs as a team,” said Grant Hernandez, a CISE Ph.D. student and UF CCDC team member.

The CCDC is intended to “provide institutions with an information assurance or computer security curriculum a controlled, competitive environment to assess their student's depth of understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting a corporate network infrastructure and business information systems.”

The competitions ask teams to assume administrative and protective duties for an existing commercial network.

“I love these competitions because they are so intense and the odds are purposefully stacked against you,” Hernandez said. “It's a great challenge to overcome a fire hose of tasks combined with an active professional red team trying to prevent you from completing them.”

Each team begins the competition with an identical set of hardware and software and is scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, maintain availability of existing services, respond to business requests, and balance security needs against business needs.

“For a team to succeed in CCDC, they must be familiar with a wide variety of operating systems and services as well as their security vulnerabilities,” said Joe Wilson faculty advisor for UFSIT and CISE assistant professor. “Most of the team members will not take jobs where they need to do the kinds of things they do in CCDC, but the preparation for CCDC is so far-reaching that it will help them in any job they could take in which information security is a concern.”

Read more about the competition: Southeast Collegiate Cyber Defense