National CCDC

Where Education.......

.......Meets Operation

SMU’s Recent Competition

On the weekend of March 10th, Southern Methodist University competed in and won the Southwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense competition (CCDC). Winning this regional event qualifies SMU to compete in the Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition on April 25-26, 2014. This is SMUs fourth year competing in a regional CCDC event and first win. In previous years SMU has placed second, and has therefore not qualified for the national competition.

SMU’s team consists of 8 students this year, Stark Riedesel (graduate, 4th competition), Chris King (graduate, 4th competition), James Hartnett (Senior, third competition), Patrick Brannen (Junior, third competition), Andrew Blanchard (Junior, 1st competition), Alyssa Rahman (Freshman, 1st competition), Preston Deason (Freshman, 1st competition), and Russell Hallmark (Freshman, 1st competition) along with faculty sponsor Aaron Estes. SMU’s team is proportionally younger than other teams competing and is largely self-taught.

About CCDC – the organization

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition began in San Antonio and the Southwest Region in 2005 with the purpose of providing a template for students at the collegiate level to have a means to put their educational expertise into practical application and sharpen their skills. It was the hope of the founders (Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security, UTSA) that the existence of this competition would help motivate the development of cyber security programs among educational institutions. Over the course of the past decade, the competition has grown to consist of 10 regions across the nation. Every year, each region holds qualifying and regional competitions in order to send one team to the national competition.

CCDC is sponsored by many companies that are invested in the industry as well as government agencies. Many these sponsors attend the competitions looking to meet, interact with, and recruit the student competitors.

About CCDC – the event

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) is a two day competition in which teams of 8 students must maintain a realistic Business IT environment. There are three main components to the competition. Teams must maintain a network and the services it provides, for example e-mail or a website. Teams must respond to business injects that require changes to be made to the network or providing recommendations on emerging technologies and the associated cyber threats. Teams must defend their network from malicious attackers who are trying to steal sensitive data and bring down services that are provided by the network.

Teams are presented with the following scenario. A fictional company has recently fired their two – three person IT team for gross incompetence. The students have been hired to take over as the IT team for this company. In this scenario, teams are given a foreign network about which very little is known. No usernames or passwords are given on some of the systems and teams must hack into the computers to gain access. Throughout the day teams receive requests from the CIO in the form of business injects.

SMU’s Preparation

SMU’s team is comprised of members from the Security Special Interest Group, a group in SMU’s Computer Science department that was founded to help promote the learning of cyber security concepts among the student body. These students meet once or twice a week in order to teach each other what they have spent their own time learning in regards to cyber-security.

In order to prepare for CCDC, SMU’s team met and discussed concepts that were expected to be seen at the competition. These students also participated in two in-house practices in which software, written by team member Stark Riedesel, designed to emulate the software used in the competition was used to measure team performance. As the team prepares for the national competition, another in-house practice will be held. This level of practice is more than the team has done in previous years and the results were incredibly positive as evidenced by the winning of the regional competition.

Written By: Patrick Brannen



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