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BAE Systems Pits Cyber Students Against Professional Hackers

Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition
They say there’s no substitute for on-the-job training. College students attending the 2013 National CyberWatch Center Mid-Atlantic Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) will likely agree with that.

Over a four day stretch this April, student teams were thrown into a real-life cyber-security scenario, and challenged to protect a fictitious nation’s electronic voting system against an attack by expert hackers.

“This is a phenomenal unstructured competition, that pushes students to apply classroom theory and skills to defend against realistic cyber threats,” said Mark Heck, Division Director of IT & Cybersecurity Solutions for BAE Systems.

BAE Systems was proud to sponsor this year’s event, which tasked the college teams with defending simulated electronic voting systems for a fictitious nation that has never before held an election.

“The competition puts each student into a specific role, and tests their ability to work together as a team to protect a virtual cyber network from a malicious attack,” said Heck. “Just like the real world, if one fails they all fail. The key is communication and teamwork amongst all.”

Previous year’s competitions challenged teams to defend power grids and health care data networks from various cyberattacks.

“It’s inspiring to see the level of focus and creativity the competition brings out in participants,” said Heck. “You can tell how passionate these students are about their course of study in the cyber field.”

This year’s competition included eight teams of students from two- and four-year colleges and universities, including: Anne Arundel Community College (Md.), Capitol College (Md.), Craven Community College (N.C.), Millersville University (Pa.), North Carolina State University, Radford University (Va.), University of Maryland at College Park, and University of Maryland University College. The winning team, Millersville University, was declared the mid-Atlantic regional champion, and will now move on to the National CCDC on April 19-21 in San Antonio, TX.

In addition to the cyber competition, the event also featured a job fair for college students, and a High School Cybersecurity Fair and Expo which gives high school students the chance to see the CCDC in action, and learn more about careers in cybersecurity, certificate and college options, scholarships, and admission processes from on-site college recruiters.

“It’s important to reach into the school systems at the lower levels, to help shape and grow future talent early in their education,” said Heck. “At BAE Systems, we really make an effort to advance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.”

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/.