UNH Hosts 2018 Northeast Cyber Security Competition

March 27, 2018

by UNH IT Staff

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) hosted this year’s Northeast Cyber Security Competition from March 16-18. Colleges and universities from the Northeast region of the country compete against each other, with the winner going on to the National competition in San Antonio, Texas.

Student teams form fictitious companies, and all receive the same hardware and software resources. Each team receives a composite score based on its ability to successfully defend itself from cyberattacks, keeping its online services available, while equalizing business and security requirements. With the prevalence of cloud-based computing, this year’s competition focused on the ability for each company to secure its presence in the cloud.

The top four finishers were:

  • First: University at Buffalo
  • Second: Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Third: Northeastern University
  • Fourth: University of New Hampshire

UNH Signals: IT News sat down with Scott Kitterman from UNH Computer Sciences to ask him a few questions about the competition.

Signals: IT News: What are the goals of this competition?

Kitterman: Our goals of this competition were:

  • To offer an event that gives college students practical cyber security experience.
  • Provide event sponsors a group of student candidates that understand how to run a modern (cloud based) Security Operation Center.
  • Select the best student team to represent the northeast at National competition hosted in San Antonio Texas.

Signals: IT News: How do teams win this competition?  Are teams that are hacked essentially eliminated?

Kitterman: Teams participate throughout the entire event, start to finish. The event is a series of IT business changes to support the company mission. Each change request is graded on success in meeting the request and protecting the service/business. The teams are scored on how well they detect and respond to security threats while successfully supporting the business.

The UNH Northeast Cyber Security Team, led by  Coach Chris Neveau, bottom right

Signals: IT News: Do all student teams use the same tools and resources, or is this part of the competition?

Kitterman: Each student team has their own room in Kingsbury Hall, with identical setups which consist of computers, firewalls and Internet of Things (IOT) devices. All of the equipment is current and the same quality that companies use today. This year students will be using industry leading firewalls made by Palo Alto networks. Other equipment includes web cameras and wireless routers. Computer systems are a mix of Windows desktops/servers and various Linux OSes. The teams will be using Amazon cloud system which is no different than any small business would purchase from Amazon.

Signals: IT News: What else excites you about this competition?

Kitterman: Hosting this completion is a big commitment that entails a lot of work from getting equipment, making building wiring/wireless changes and re-arranging 12 rooms in a short period of time. To do this we have not only a tireless (well maybe he is very tired) leader Ken Graf, Security lecturer of Computer Science, but also a huge array of people who helped out and are working hard.  We have had great support from UNH IT CIO Stan Waddell via the IT liaison Scott Valcourt who has helped secure computers and loaner network equipment from all over USNH including UNH Law School IT manager Paul LaClair and Plymouth IT department.

UNH Academic Technology has been very helpful in donating PCs and letting us load competition operating systems on 20 Dell systems located in the Kingsbury N129 classroom. In addition, we could not get the event running without all the help offered up from the UNH Telecommunications crew. They are rewiring much of the North wing for the event and then coming in early Monday morning to restore it before classes start. They have donated time in helping to get firewall and routing designs in place and working. A Whittemore Center-style wireless network will be setup and running in Kingsbury during the event as well. The wireless change will allow the support teams (red/white/black) to access wireless without UNH Active Directory credentials.

NECCDC is an event for students to put knowledge and theory into managing and protecting real world commercial business IT systems while keeping up with the demands of changing business requirements. In addition to the student experience, it is also a time for all of us across the hosting campus as well as the outside supporting participants to experience professional growth and building relationships. It is an event that offers a great experience for all.

For more information, go to: https://neccdc2018.org


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