Cybersecurity showdown

September 16, 2019 posted by


Security is one of the most exciting areas
in the broader field of computing, and the reason for that is that it has one
characteristic that’s different from all the others and that is that there’s an adversarial
relationship out there. There are just bad people out there. The kind of folks that are out there that
are willing to take your retirement, that they’re willing to drain your bank accounts
and as long as there’s a profit, they don’t care. And one of the challenges I have with students
as is shaking that innocence. It’s not fun, but they have to understand
that this isn’t a game of “Call of Duty” where we’re gonna meet up at the local bar
for a drink and high-five afterward. This isn’t a game. I had a friend that said he was preparing
for this thing called the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, CCDC. So that’s a big college defense competition
where they have industry professionals come in and try to hack your infrastructure and
you have to defend it for an entire weekend. And I was like, “That sounds awesome. How
can I get involved?” The students, when they come into the competition,
they’re given essentially a system of computers and servers that represented real-world business. They walk into the room and they’re given
something that they’ve never seen before and they’re told that the previous IT team was
fired because they did a lousy job and they are the new IT team. Their job is to clean everything up and fix
everything and have everything up and running. Meanwhile, while these guys are trying to
learn about this new system that they’ve inherited, there is this “Red Team” — they’re
the hackers. They represent the bad guys on the Internet. So they’re trying to hamper the students’
efforts in trying to get their systems up and maintained. (student #1) Who’s logged into (inaudible)
right now? (student #2) I am. (student #1) Are you working on WordPress
or messing with Grub? (student #2) No. (student #1) No one else is?! Matt! Matt: I’m looking at it right now but I
don’t see a Grub at all. (student #3) OK we are now – (interrupts) (student #1) No! What were you just working
on? Working on Grub? Matt: No. (student #4) So I was compromised. The main purpose of this competition is really
to produce the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. We are in a desperate shortage of them, and
this competition’s main focus is to create the next generation of cybersecurity professionals
who can defend against breaches that we hear about every day. After just nine hours of just constant competition
and just bombardment and really stressful and impactful situations, this is where we get to kind of wind down,
kind of meet some of the other competitors, people from other schools, and there’s also a bunch of the sponsors and
other industry professionals here that kind of talk us through our first job opportunities
and just offer us advice in general. A lot of companies will want to find out where’s
the best place to pull talent, and so right here in this competition is an
example of a situation where you have a lot of problems thrown at you at the same time
and so a lot of companies are going to say, “Oh, where are we going to find battle-hardened
students?” so they come here and there’s a lot of recruiters here, you can talk to all of
them. What’s your name? Tyler, how are you? I’m doing fantastic. What would be your
ideal career? What are you looking for? What’s going to get you out of bed? Competitions like in CCDC allow us to build
the interests and skills of the workforce that is needed to further protect us against
cyberthreats and attacks. If anyone ever considered this field or has
any interest in this field or if any schools that have never really entered, I would really
recommend this competition because even though we do all this and everybody
wants to win, this whole thing is about competition, the whole main goal of this is to learn. And you learn a lot!

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