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Student Team Successfully Defends Cyber Attacks, Wins Indiana Competition

February 22, 2012

Six of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's top tech-savvy students defended a business network infrastructure against professional "hackers" to earn first-place honors in the Indiana's Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition on February 18.  In its first year of participating, the team will progress to compete in the Midwest Regional competition in Chicago and possibly the national finals in San Antonio, Texas.

             Cyber Campus
   Cyber Security Champions: Earning first-place honors in Indiana's Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition was the team that included (front row, from left) faculty mentor Chris Simmons, Neil Semmel, Sean Richardson and faculty mentor Nadine Shillingford.  In the back row (from left) are Mark Wlodarski, Cameron Spry and Ryne Bell.  Not pictured is Parker Schmitt.

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) provides a controlled, competitive environment to assess students' understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting a corporate network infrastructure and business information systems.

The challenge for the Indiana competition had the Rose-Hulman team setting up a mock small-business network with web servers, email servers and e-commerce operation servers.  The students worked together to fend off attacks from a team of security professional "hackers."  Each team had a network consisting of six servers, three workstations, one firewall, one router and one switch. The network was mixed with Windows, Linux and Cisco devices.  During the competition, points were awarded based on how well the students maintained and defended their services.

Concepts that a CCDC team needs to learn in order to perform well include perimeter security, patching, networking, UNIX and Windows user management, services and applications, tools (port scanners, vulnerability scanners etc.), authentication and other general administrative duties.  In addition, students learn key life skills including time management, delegation, good writing skills, organizational skills and flexibility.

"The competition deals with many pressing issues that real security and network professionals deal with and they pass along these scenarios for us to overcome under pressure," stated Rose-Hulman team captain Sean Richardson, a junior computer engineering major.

Other team members were computer science and software engineering students software engineering majors Ryne Bell and Neil Semmel, engineering physics major Parker Schmitt, computer engineering student Cameron Spry and computer science major Mark Wlodarski.  Faculty mentors were Nadine Shillingford and Chris Simmons of the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Rose-Hulman's team outscored four other Indiana colleges in the state competition at Fort Wayne.  Indiana Institute of Technology placed second and Ivy Tech Community College Northeast was third.  This was the first year that all of the participating teams came from Indiana.  All of the other competing teams had eight students, while Rose-Hulman's squad had six members.

Learn more about the CCDC at