Team Radford—12 undergraduate computer science students— stood guard for two days over a fictitious national electronic voting system as part of the national 2013 Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC).
Leading Team Radford in the Mid-Atlantic Regional segment of the competition was Jeffar Ali, a senior computer science major from Leesburg and a two-year veteran of the mock cyber wars. The opponent was a Red Team of industry computer security personnel. This weekend's event will be at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
"This competition is meant to push you to the edge. Being able to keep our cool will be extremely important in this competition as it will be in the real world," Ali said. "Week in and week out, we have dedicated time outside of class, and the team has given its all." The team includes Ali, James Hunt, Calvin Sauerbier, Brock Shelton, Alex Newton, Brian Dillon, Lloyd Jones, Justin Matthews, Greg Hagen, Joshua Snow, Chris Moore and Chris Montana.
Team Radford, which won the regional qualifying event in March, was one of eight teams in the mid-Atlantic competition and the only team representing a Virginia university. The weekend's winning team will move on to the national CCDC later this month in San Antonio.
Associate Professor Premhand Uppuluri, coach of the team, said, "The CCDC will give RU students the chance to apply classroom theory and skills against real-time targeted cyber attacks in a controlled, scored setting."
Since August 2012, the team, representing the Division of Information Technology in the College of Science and Technology, has routinely assembled and reassembled its own network in anticipation of working with its contest-assigned 14-piece network systems. The members install and scrutinize for vulnerability a myriad of software and operating systems. They also scan the Web regularly for information on current methods of attacks in anticipation for the two-day trial and have consulted with industry network security personnel, including RU's infrastructure and network staff.
"We will not know what we have to do until we get there, but we are preparing to use our collective knowledge so we can work as a team under the intense pressure," said Lloyd Jones, a senior computer science major from Wise who is making his first appearance in the pit.
Eileen Hindmon, a senior computer science major from Blacksburg, was part of the team that went to the CCDC in 2012 and tied for third place. "The two days are intense and focused," she said. "The Red Team is like a death star hidden behind a curtain using its tools and experience to break us and our system."
The event also includes a symposium on electronic voting and a job fair for college students. The Mid-Atlantic CCDC, part of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, is coordinated and run by the National CyberWatch Center, an Advanced Technological Education Center funded by the National Science Foundation.
For information on CCDC and the National CyberWatch Center, visit http://www.maccdc.org/.