UAF wins 2014 Pacific Rim Cyber Collegiate Defense Competition
Blake Cooper/ Sun Star Contributor
Mar. 11, 2014
UAF students kept their first place title from last year after a grueling weekend of network defense winning this year’s CCDC. The Cyber Collegiate Defense Competition or CCDC is a network defense competition that is held every year in the spring. Many students from all over the United States
join up every season to compete. The CCDC competition is held between many groups of students or security teams and a group of security professionals. The main goal of the competition is for the students to defend their computer network while the group of security professionals attempts to compromise it. The regional competition is held over the course of a single weekend and whoever places first in their region then moves on to the national competition level event held in San Antonio, Texas.
The CCDC was started so that students will have the opportunity to be in an environment that looks and feels just like a real world corporate network. Once they have secured the network, they will get the chance to see security problems and business requests that would actually exist within a corporate network, in real time.This will give the students a chance to demonstrate that they know how to guard their network against malicious attacks while still being able to handle requests handed down to them from the corporate administration. “The CCDC gives students the opportunity to experience real world security challenges and deal with them accordingly,” said Dr. Brian Hay, a professor in the Computer Science Department and the main organizer of the event.
Students prepare for the event nearly six months before the competition date and meet frequently to discuss preparation, event rules and procedures. Students must prepare themselves with knowledge of network hardening(securing a network against attackers), securing resources, and competition rules. Within the groups of people who operate the competition, each group has a designation based on a color that helps define them and their function.The white team is administration and helps monitor the security teams and the software that enables the teams to compete. There are also white team judges who score on performance. The red team is made up of security professionals who are poised to interact with the student’s network during the event. This group imitates real world attackers and attempts to compromise the student’s network using up-to-date and practical attack methods to put pressure on students while they complete corporate requests or “injects” for points. These injects are formulated before the competition and are the same tasks a corporate administration would request a security team to do such as setting up new services or altering network resource availability. This could be as easy as sending an email with an update of network status to as complex as adding a whole new service to the network.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been a participant in the CCDC for six years. The last three years of the college’s participation has been important as UAF has been a sort of headquarters for the administration of the entire Pacific Rim competition. The UAF Community and Technical College has also had a team that has participated for the last three years of UAF’s involvement. Heading up the organization of the entire event for the Pacific Rim is Hay and his team of administrators, as well as white team judges that are physically judging at each event.The red team is headed up by Senior System Security Engineer Patrick Morissey and his team from Rockwell Collins, an aerospace and defense company that designs and produces electronic and communication equipment. In addition, students from a security curriculum at Mississippi State University participate in red team operations. Dr. Orion Lawler, a professor in the computer science department, is the UAF team’s coach. The team is completely comprised of students including a team captain, an alternate team captain and six other students. With all three team’s full participation the event runs smoothly and is a fun and challenging experience for everyone.
This event is both educational and career building as there are always company recruiters from interested corporations watching from the sidelines of each event. Students from this event will receive special attention for placing in the top three and first place winners will be advanced to nationals in San Antonio, Texas. The competition this year was held last weekend March 7 – 9. The following are the top three winning teams: third place goes to Honolulu University, second place goes to University of Alaska Anchorage, and first place goes to University of Alaska Fairbanks. A big thank you and congratulations from the organizers goes out to all the teams who participated. Nationals will be in April and the UAF team winners will be traveling to Texas at that time.
Editor’s note: Blake Cooper is a former teammate for CCDC.