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National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC)

Posted by Mark Weatherford, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) in San Antonio, Texas. The Department of Homeland Security is proud to be one of the sponsors of this competition that took place over the course of three days and focused on the operational aspects of securing and defending a “commercial” network infrastructure.

Over the past year, 1,300 students from more than 100 schools around the country competed in state qualifiers and regional finals to represent their academic institutions in the world’s largest collegiate cyber defense competition. This past weekend, the eighty finalists pitted their knowledge, skills, and abilities in network defense against an elite group of professional “pentesters” or Red Team cyber-attackers. The scenarios allowed for the 10 teams of eight to defend identically configured “small business” networks supporting 50+ users with 7-10 servers. Teams were scored by a computerized engine on their ability to detect and respond to Red Team attacks, while maintaining availability of existing network services and business applications and also responding to common user requests for things like password changes and new services.

Watching these students compete against an aggressive Red Team who used every cyber-technique in their arsenal including strategic attacks, social engineering, and advance persistent threats was incredibly impressive and gives me great hope for the future of the cybersecurity workforce.

After the second day of competition, NCCDC held a recruiting event where students engaged with business executives and government officials to discuss a myriad of security and operational challenges they’ll face when entering the job market. As companies and government organizations competed for the students’ attention, it was clear that the industry and government representatives were just as excited as the students because we had the great fortune to see how skilled, ambitious, and qualified these young aspiring cyber professionals are. As recruiters vied for the students’ interest, I kept thinking how cool it is to be a geek!

I congratulate the sponsors of the NCCDC for hosting such a relevant exercise, and for providing a spectacular opportunity for future professionals of the cyber workforce and organizations alike. I’d like to congratulate the future of our nation’s cybersecurity workforce and the winners of the 2012 NCCDC:

First Place (2 Time National Champion) – University of Washington
Second Place – United States Air Force Academy
Third Place – Texas A&M University


Congratulations as well to the 2012 Regional winners:

At-Large: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Rocky Mountain: United States Air Force Academy
Southeast: UNC Charlotte
Northeast: Rochester Institute of Technology
Southwest: Texas A&M University
Mid-Atlantic: Towson University
Midwest: St. Cloud State University
North Central: University of Wyoming
Western: Cal Poly Pomona
Pacific Rim: University of Washington


For information on pursuing a career in cybersecurity at DHS, visit here.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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