The University of Florida Student InfoSec Team (UF-SIT) placed first at the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) during the 2019 CyberForce Competition out of 15 participating teams and placed third nationally out of 104 teams.
This is the Department of Energy’s fifth iteration of its cyber defense competition, designed to inspire and develop the next generation of energy sector cybersecurity professionals. The competition featured 105 collegiate teams from 32 states and one territory, with participants ranging from undergraduate freshmen to Ph.D. candidates.
Each team competed regionally at 10 of DOE’s national laboratories, with the UF-SIT group competing at ORNL. Each team is scored on its ability to safeguard the infrastructure against attacks while keeping the system running. Creative or innovative ideas and defenses are also rewarded in the scoring.
According to the DOE, the competition challenged teams with not only defending 1 of 4 system scenarios — an energy company’s solar generation facility, electric substation, data center, or manufacturing plant — but communicating with the other three infrastructures to monitor and maintain the integrity of the system as a whole.
Six students from UF-SIT went to Tennessee for the event : Ben Simon (captain), Owen Flannagan, Cole McMullen, Claire Seiler, Nozomi Watanabe and John Woodman. UF-SIT is a group composed mostly of students from the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research, but is open to all students at UF.
The group generally participates in 50-60 competitions each year, varying in scale and duration and a majority are online. This year the group has participated in more than 45 competitions so far. UF-SIT funding comes from student government, and the group is always seeking sponsors for student travel to these types of competitions.