We recently hosted the 2011 South East Collegiate Cyber Defense competition at Kennesaw State University. First place was awarded to the University of Louisville, and they also swept all the individual category awards as well. All in all, a pretty dominating performance by that team. This year, we had a total of 10 teams competing, our largest turnout ever.
For those who aren’t familiar with this event, the overall mission of the competition is to offer “…a controlled, competitive environment to assess their student’s depth of understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting a corporate network infrastructure and business information systems.” (Taken from the National CCDC website)
From my perspective, this competition is a ton of work. My colleagues and I work in the months prior to the competition, devising everything from network topology, to ideas for misconfigured systems, to competition rules, to individual business taskings the teams must carry out during the competition. We stage the competition during our spring break, so we effectively don’t get any real downtime during the break. We run the event over two very long days (8 and 12 hours, respectively), and have an awards presentation the third day.
However, as tiring and demanding as the competition is, I wouldn’t change a thing! To have the opportunity to take these students through a high-pressure, task and time-oriented environment, giving them mundane tasks to accomplish, reports to write, services to set up and take down, hardware to install and remove, all the while having a team of professional pen testers trying to take their systems offline, is nothing short of a true joy! My role during the competition is that of the company CIO, so teams have to routinely interact with my character to get things approved, etc. And I’ll tell you this much, those teams get “exposed” to the behaviors I’ve experienced with executives I’ve had to deal with over my experience in industry. In other words – demanding, rude, short, high on expectations and low on patience.
It’s my hope that students who come out of the back side of this competition are better prepared for their future careers, and that we’ve been able to help them with that in some small way.