Teams of eight students worked for two days to defend a network of computers from attacks while keeping their systems running and responding to user and management needs. This year’s competition scenario focused on the idea that a major blizzard had impacted the entire state of Maryland, prompting declarations of emergency and the mobilization of the state National Guard. The students acted as the IT staff for local field operations in support of the guard. Their tasks were to set up and maintain secure communications at their remote field stations. They were also responsible for managing network infrastructure, tracking volunteers, equipment, and supplies as they moved to aid the victims. Many members of the Maryland National Guard volunteered to help, including Elizabeth "Nikki” Austin from TU’s Department of Nursing and the Integrated Homeland Security Management program.
Simultaneously, each team was attacked by roughly thirty professional attackers whose role was to disrupt the operations of the student teams. They simulated a nation-state level cyber-attack on the disaster recovery efforts.
During the competition, the students responded to "injects”, these are requirements of the underlying organization, and range from simple things like adding users to the system to much more complex tasks like having the team captain interviewed on camera by someone playing the role of the county executive. The team captain reported on the state of their network and made changes and recommendations.
Thirty different schools from Pennsylvania to North Carolina participated in the regional competition, including Bowie State, George Mason, George Washington, North Carolina State, the Naval Academy, and the University of Maryland at College Park- all of whom were knocked out in the qualifying round. Joining Towson in the finals were Anne Arundel Community College, Capitol College, Liberty University, Millersville University, Radford University, UMBC, and West Virginia University.
The finals were held in the Kossiakoff Center at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins in Laurel, MD. The event was webcast live on securityweekly.com. Liberty finished second, while Radford University finished third.
This success continues a legacy of wins in cyber defense competitions for Towson. The Towson team has won this event twice before in 2010 and in 2012; the team also won the 2011 Maryland Cyber Challenge and the 2010 CSC Cyb3rBattleground Competition.
The student team now begins preparation for the national competition, which will be held in San Antonio from April 25-27 where they hope to improve upon their previous finishes- fourth place in the 2010 and fifth place in 2012. The national competition will feature winners of the ten different regional competitions.
The Towson team features eight students:
Emily Jay (Senior) Felix Guerrero (Junior) John Feehley (Junior) Justin Mavunkal (Junior) Kurt Karolenko (Senior) Matt Mickel (Grad, Team captain) Matt Spriesterbach (Junior) Matt Verrette (Sophomore)