Cyber Defense Club places first in regional competition, second nationally

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Over the weekend, the Cyber Defense Club traveled to Chicago to participate in the Department of Energy’s CyberForce Competition. The team placed first in the regional competition at the Argonne National Laboratory and placed second in the nation, right behind the University of Central Florida.

“The main gist of the the competition is that each team gets an insecure network and we have to secure it while getting attacked by other people,” Josh Riess, junior in computer science, said. “We have to make sure we keep our network safe.”

According to the Argonne National Laboratory’s website, the competition challenged students with defending a simulated oil transportation network, a power delivery system and a high-performance computing system against attacks by experts at the National Labs, the private sector and the National Guard.

The competition took place at seven different laboratories across the U.S. with 70 teams participating.

Each team was scored on a variety of different criteria including service uptime, green usability, documentation and reports, anomaly and red team score. The team scored full points on service uptime and red team score.

The competition was separated into teams, each having a different job. The blue team was the students competing against each other. Their job was to ensure that their network was kept safe from the red team, which was the attack team.

The red team’s job was to attack each of the blue team’s networks to test the safety of the system. The attack phase was between the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There were about 120 red team members, meaning every team had one or two people attacking them.

“The red team hit us about 70 times,” Riess said. “They tried to throw random stuff at servers to see what would stick. We did a pretty good job at locking things down, there was only one moment which we thought they got in, but it didn’t affect anything. We changed some settings immediately as soon as we saw them come in.”

The green team was the end users. They did the scoring and tested the usability of each system. Another team, the white team was the IT administrators, who put on the competition.

Kansas State was only 92.7 points behind the first-place team nationally. Since K-State’s team placed only behind Central Florida, it beat the University of Kansas.

“It’s always the goal to beat KU,” Riess said. “Last year they beat us by a little, but this year we ended up on top.”

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