“The United States it is under attack, and we don’t have enough people learning the skills needed to protect us,” said Spencer DeGraw, LDSBC Information Technology Program Chair. “This is why NIATEC (National Information Assurance Training and Education Center) and other IT competitions are organized and promoted around the country.”
This year’s NIATEC Invitational Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition took place on Nov. 12 at Idaho State University. It lasted about 10 hours.
The cyber defense competition puts student teams in the role of system administrators attempting to defend their networks from aggressive attackers, who seek to cripple the availability of their systems. At the same time, the teams were responsible for developing and implementing security policy and controls to secure both the digital and technical environments.
NIATEC students have developed a dynamic virtual infrastructure and populated it within a creative scenario environment to produce a holistic security experience. Funding for the competition was provided by ISU Credit Union, with scholarship prizes for competitors donated by the National Security Agency.
17 teams came from Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, LDS Business College, Southern Utah University, University of Idaho, and Weber State University. LDSBC had two teams competing this year.
Each team worked on its own, with no input from advisors. The theme this year was Jurassic World.
“Our goal was to protect the dinosaur making business,” DeGraw said. “Our virtual technology servers included the incubator that made dinosaur eggs. If we lost power, we would lose the eggs. So, in the game, we had to make sure the hackers weren’t able to cut-off our power.”
Each team was given the same digital environment, with six servers. They had to fix what was vulnerable on the servers and defend themselves from the hackers.
At the conclusion of the competition, all the teams came together for the announcement of the top 10. Both LDSBC teams finished in the top 10, and one team took second place. LDSBC was the only school with a two-year program participating in the competition.
“The fact that we took second place is a really big deal,” said DeGraw, “because we were up against big schools with large budgets and accomplished programs. It shows that LDSBC’s IT program can hold its own and is among the best in the region.”