Southeast Cyber Defense Team Takes Second at Midwest Regional Competition

The Southeast Missouri State University cyber defense team took second place at the 2018 Erich J. Spenger Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) March 23-24 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois.

Southeast finished behind Indiana Tech, which now will represent the Midwest and advance to the National CCDC April 13-15. Southeast advanced to the Midwest Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition after taking first place March 3 for the sixth straight year at the Missouri Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

“The students’ performance shows the quality of students our program produces. As always excellence and quality of skills are key outcomes of our program,” said Dr. Vijay Anand, director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program, faculty advisor to Southeast’s cybersecurity team and associate professor of computer science. “The students’ efforts and their commitment to showing this is a testament to their efforts to learn beyond the classroom and focus on honing their skills, which our program fosters.”

The competition was designed to test each team’s ability to secure a networked computer system while maintaining standard business functionality. The teams were expected to manage a computer network, keep it operational and prevent unauthorized access. Each team was expected to maintain and provide public services during a simulated threat.

The goal was to measure a team’s ability to maintain secure computer network operations in a simulated business environment. This is not just a technical competition, but also one built upon the foundation of business operations, policy and procedures, Anand said. A technical success that adversely impacts business operation results in a lower score as does a business success that results in security weaknesses. Teams were scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, including cyber-attacks, while maintaining the availability of existing network services such as mail and web servers, responding to business requests such as the addition or removal of additional services, and balancing security against varying business needs.

Taking third place in the competition was DePaul University in Chicago. Also competing at the regional were Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; Milwaukee (Wisconsin) School of Engineering (MSOE); Baldwin Wallace University of Berea, Ohio; Cuyahoga Community College of Cleveland, Ohio; Northern Kentucky University of Highland Heights, Kentucky; Baker College of Flint, Michigan; and St. Cloud State University of St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Southeast students competing were Lucas Kossack of Grantsburg, Illinois; Jonathan Fulling of Bloomington, Illinois; Mackenzie Bonneville of Mapleton, Illinois; Bryton Herdes of Xenia, Illinois; Ben Shell of Marble, Hill, Missouri; Jonathan “Jonny” Johnson of Rolla, Missouri; Ethan Gyori of Eureka, Missouri; and Adam Elfrink of Jackson, Missouri; The team’s alternates are Drake Fisher of Carbondale, Illinois; Andrew Banning of Salem, Illinois; Scott St. John of Wildwood, Missouri; and Stephanie Graessle of Ballwin, Missouri.

Anand said the Southeast cyber defense team will continue to build on its success. Plans to expand and relocate a cyber stadium in Dempster Hall is a step in that direction, he said. The cyber stadium provides a virtual world and private cloud that can be programmed for limitless purposes, from hosting cyber defense competitions to renting out the digital space to companies for data storage and use. The stadium can also support student and faculty research, as well as Department of Computer Science or University projects.

“I would like to thank President (Carlos) Vargas and the administration for their support of the Cyber Stadium which is a critical state-of-the-art infrastructure for our students to practice,” Anand said.