NU students win national cyber defense competition

NU students win national cyber defense competition

By Laura Mueller-Soppart, News Staff

This past weekend Northeastern’s team took first place in the 2010 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in San Antonio, Texas.

The competition is premised on the goal of defending against cyber attacks. Each team essentially acts as newly hired information technology staff at a company. There is an opposing team who is trying to infiltrate the new staff’s system, and it is the team’s goal to ward off the hackers.

This is the fifth year of the competition. It took place April 16-18 and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Northeastern’s team consisted of graduate students Weiwei Hu and Alagu Irulappan, and undergraduate students Marc Held, Shawn Smith, William Nowak and Channing Conger. Kevin Amorin, a lecturer in the College of Computer and Information Science, coached the team.

“The San Antonio weather was not good for being a tourist but the competition there was fantastic. The business oriented tasks we achieved prove what a strong we are,” said graduate student Weiwei Hu.

The teams are judged on how well they are able to dissect the nature of the attack and the response the team calculates. Maintenance of the critical services of the business must be upheld while performing all the tasks; the consumer should not realize the company is experiencing technical difficulties, according to the competition’s website.

Before entering the competition in Texas, the team won the Northeast competition in March beating University of Maine, second place winners, and Rochester Institute of Technology, third place winners.

On the national level, Northeastern beat 82 other schools for the top Alamo Cup prize.

The real life applicability of the competition brought many of the competitors back to their work at different co-op position at companies like Google and Microsoft.

Team Captain Shawn Smith found the team’s knowledge gained from co-op as a true time saver and an invaluable asset.

“We can talk with one another about what we know I might not know how to do something, but, instead of having to search online for a few minutes, I can get a straight answer from one of my friends,” Smith said.

“The CIAS is committed to establishing a pipeline of highly qualified students who are interested in pursuing cyber security careers. This gives them invaluable practical experience and makes them more marketable when they go to apply for jobs following graduation,” said Dwayne Williams, director of the NCCDC, in the competition’s press release.

The prestige of this competition is highlighted by the attendance of Howard Schmidt, the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator.

Cyber security is becoming an increasing concern for national security. The commercial and government sector continues to increase its dependence on online services.

Northeastern competed nationally last year as well.

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