Competition pits college students against hackers

Competition pits college students against hackers

While some college students spend their spring break at the beach, those on eight university teams will devote part of theirs to protecting financial institutions from a cyberattack.

The 2016 National Cyberwatch Center Mid-Atlantic Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition will take place from March 31 to April 2 at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab.

In this year’s challenge, known as Operation Cyber Bailout, competitors will face a mock Hackistan Army of Liberation made up of cybersecurity professionals who will attack IT systems in simulated financial institutions. Teams will plan on how to defend the institutions against the attacks and keep them operating.The competition is designed to give students the chance to apply lessons and skills learned in the classroom to defend against cyberattacks in real time in a controlled environment.

“These students are going to get the closest thing to a live-fire cyberattack they can get,” said Richard George, a senior advisor for cybersecurity at the Applied Physics Lab. “The lessons learned from these challenges will strengthen the entire domestic cybersecurity community -- academic, private sector and government.”

Bloomsburg University, Capital Technology University, Liberty University, Radford University, Towson University, University of Maryland (Baltimore County and College Park) and West Virginia University will all participate in the competition.

The entire event is free to the public and all 14 hours of the competition will be streamed along with commentary and live interviews. The winning team will qualify for the 2016 Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in San Antonio, Texas, in April.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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