BYU Students Secure a First Place Hat-Trick at 2015 NIATEC CCDC
Students from the BYU Cybersecurity Research Lab secured a first-place hat-trick by successfully defending their systems from attack for the third year running. The NIATEC Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition is based on real-world scenarios where students are provided a representative environment of servers, workstations and procedures. Dealing with unsecured systems, weak passwords and an aggressive red-team intent on hacking their network, the team must work together to secure their infrastructure, maintain critical services, respond to management requests and perform incident response. This year saw the teams handling forensic investigations, training staff and performing their own security audits. Benefiting from their experience on the BYU CSRL Red and Blue teams and a history of successful competitions, BYU's two teams ranked first and fourth out of 7 contenders from colleges along the Wasatch Front.
The first place team, from BYU's Information Technology program included freshman Kaylee Richmond, junior student Andrew Nelson, senior Andres Martinson and graduate student Jonathan Mercado. Team coach Dr. Dale Rowe commented:
"This year was unusual. We had some last minute travel complications and the result was five out of our eight students joined the teams less than a weak prior to the competition. They had no coaching, mentoring or experience other than their IT education and CSRL research projects. All the students, including freshmen made critical contributions that combined, earned them first place."
The second team took fourth place and consisted of junior Cara Cornel, seniors Wesley Haws and Tanner Johnson and graduate student Brendan Abbott.
Asked whether they think they can win next year the students stated they are "Hopeful, but the competition is getting tougher every year. We really love that NIATEC is willing to put on these events and get a lot out of the opportunity."