Baker College takes top honors in national cybersecurity competition

Baker College, of Flint, Mich., took first place in the third annual National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC), beating out the 2007 winner, Texas A&M University, in last week's six-way finals.

'We've competed for the last three years and never made it past the regional level,' said Baker team captain Brandon Hladysh. 'I'm really proud of my teammates.'

The competition is a three-day event hosted by the University of Texas at San Antonio's Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security, a cybersecurity research and education center. Eight-student teams who won the six regional competitions must maintain and operate a business network while under attack from a red team.

NCCDC bills itself as the first competition focused on the operational aspects of managing and protecting a commercial network infrastructure. Under the contest scenario, teams 'inherit' a small network that they must secure and administer. They have one hour to familiarize themselves with it and begin bringing it up-to-date with security patches and configurations before red-team attacks begin. During the attacks, they are scored on their ability to continue providing network services, including e-mail, Web sites and data access to users.

The competition is intended to replicate security and operational challenges students will face as they enter the job market.

A total of 56 schools took part in this year's six regional competitions. Advancing to the finals this year were Baker College from the Midwest; Texas A&M, which placed second this year, from the Southwest; the University of Louisville, which placed third this year, from the Southeast; the Rochester Institute of Technology from the Northeast; the Community College of Baltimore County from the Mid-Atlantic; and Mt. San Antonio College of Los Angeles County from the West.

In 2006, the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, won the national competition.

The competition is supported by the Homeland Security Department and by donations of money, equipment and time from members of the information technology and security industries.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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