If you are not aware of the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, this is a good place to start. If you are aware, then you might know that the regional competitions are underway, and this year I have been very involved with one awesome team from Highline Community College with a huge assist from CityU of Seattle.
If you want to see pictures from last year’s PRCCDC (Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition) go here and here. Overall though the preparation for this year’s events have been mostly done at Highline in their dedicated lab space.
Just some thoughts on the competition, this is for the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which really means we are pitting Washington, Alaska, and Idaho college students against some of the best hackers out there. Most of the students are going to be undergrads, or those with an AA, AS, or BS in computer systems, science, or information systems. Some might have specialized degrees such as information security, but most of the students are coming out of the computer science degree programs at colleges all across Washington State.
The competition is not for everyone, the team leader ends up being the mentor for 8 to 12 students for months. The entire process is rewarding in its own right because this gives a lot of time to develop good team skills throughout the entire competition. Team work, successful coordination of efforts, and ensuring that the communication plan is followed is going to be the only way that a team will win. When I observed in 2010, the thing that cost teams their most down time was lack of team communication, support for each other, and generally poor team performance.
Another thing that killed off teams was being too paranoid, teams that caused their own system outages lost a lot of points. One team cut themselves off the network because they thought they were being attacked, but that attack was actually the scoring engine. Being calm throughout the 48 hour weekend storm is a critical success factor.
Many of these students have been working months preparing for this weekend’s competition, long days for both students and college support staff. This is only the fourth year this has been happening in the Seattle area, so it is still relatively fresh and fun to do. While the nationals set the boundaries and rules, the regionals are really only the first step to the national level competition. University of Washington TV covered the first year competition, and the you tube video of that is right here.
Overall, this is one of the more important cyber security competitions geared towards students. Teams that work on these programs are often recruited off the competition floor by corporate sponsors. Teams also get real world highly accurate attacks from some of the better hackers out there. These are things that cannot be taught until information security instructors know more about the profession they are teaching. Students are often so busy learning the way things work, that they often do not get the opportunity to learn “what to do when things go wrong”. I will be covering the event this weekend, so you will see blog entries and photographs from me.
In the meantime, cheer our teams on, as there will be 8 to 10 colleges competing this year, making this the biggest PRCCDC ever.