Cyber Defense Team Takes Home 3rd Place at Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

Cyber Defense Team at Regional Competition

May 17, 2017

The University of Louisville JB Speed School Cyber Defense Team is a measured response to an increasingly hostile digital landscape. This year, the team took third place at the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) at Moraine Valley Community College on March 17th and 18th. The Cyber Defense team is a student interest group relative to, but not part of the Speed Association for Computing Machinery, dedicated to cyber security, both offensive and defensive with meetings once a week to discuss security topics and host hands-on training. Sponsored by the Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science, the team is multi-disciplinary, mentored by Ron Lile since 2011, who sees his position as the moral and administrative support for the students.

“When I came in 6 years ago and went to the nationals, they were on top of their game. From that point on, I started seeing a downward spiral. They were good enough to get to the regionals. For most of those years, they were consistently able to get to the regional level. But they were not very competitive. This year, is really a step up in the right direction,” Lile says adding of his own involvement, “Personally, I’m going to try to do everything that I can to build on this. Try to do a little bit of more serious recruiting for the team.”

This year was an especially difficult competition, as the CDT lost in the preliminary round to Northern Kentucky University on February 4th. To account of that, the team had to pick up the wildcard ticket, which meant that they had to compete and win against nine states to gain entry into the competition. On March 4th, they did just that.

“At all three levels of competition, the teams are placed in a ‘real world business environment’ where computing systems of all types has already been placed in various states of vulnerability. Then, after being given a brief period to familiarize themselves with the environment, the teams are hammered/attacked by a Red Team, while at the same time being expected to keep up with the everyday needs of the users they support,” says Lile.

Operating without faculty involvement, Lile believes in the self-sufficiency of the team’s leadership.

“To me, this speaks volumes about their character and technical/educational capabilities. Being able to regularly compete at the regional level, completely depending upon themselves for training is truly amazing. For the past few years, Mehdi Sabraoui has been a huge part of that leadership, with Ben Brown representing the team this year as the captain,” says Lile.

He adds, “In my opinion, this type of competition and student involvement epitomizes what a university should be all about.”

You can learn more about the Cyber Defense Team here.