Cyber defense competition coming to University of New Hampshire
The UNH Cyber Security Club “Wildhats” will host teams from Alfred State College, Champlain College, Northeastern University, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY IT, Syracuse University, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts – Boston and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
“It really is just an informal group where the students come together once a week and the bottom line is they really play with the things that they think are interesting,” Graf said, Topics of interest include Web hacking and Bitcoin, he said.
“You shouldn’t be teaching people how to break things, right? It was all done informally in the club. We could find sites that wanted us to attack them with permission, we could discuss the tools that were available. So it was really starting in that vein as a way for students to get familiar with what was going on,” Graf said.
In this event, there is no attacking of other people’s systems, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the students do have permission to attack systems to help show what is working and what is not.
Competitions are held in 10 regions and the winner from each region will travel to Texas in April for the national competition.
“We have a really good red team, so they get excellent practice,” Graf said.
Graf said the regional and national events are continuing to grow.
In UNH’s first year of competition five seniors on the team not only had job offers after the competition, but job offers with the companies they wanted to work for.
Blue chip firms and defense companies sponsor and recruit at the event.
“The bad guys have a whole set of tools … and a range of motivations and they use different techniques based on how much money and time they have and as someone who is looking to be hired into IT or is looking to write secure software or write software period the students really need to have an understanding of how and why their things could be attacked,” Graf said. “So corporate America spends a lot of time trying to train employees on what’s the right way to do this. If, as a student, you can come in and have a reasonable conversation, you don’t have to be an expert, but can hold your own in a security discussion, that is a big step ahead.”
During the competition up to eight students on each team will go into a room and essentially serve as an IT department for a small firm.
“These are people who spend all day every day doing nothing but attacking Fortune 100 size companies and getting paid a lot of money to do it and they do this event so they can practice all their new attacks and new stuff on a new environment,” Graf said.
The students will spend the vast majority of the weekend in competition.
“It really is a very grueling weekend. They don’t have a lot of time for fun, no hockey games for them,” Graf said.