When the Northeastern division of the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) came to a close on March 13, Northeastern’s team had once again come in first place, advancing to the national competition, which will be held in San Antonio, Texas between April 22-24.
This is the third time Northeastern’s team has won the regional competition and advanced to the final stage. In 2009, the team came in second place at nationals, while in 2010, the team was the national champion. CCDC has student teams take on administrative and security roles for small businesses, then scores the teams on how they respond to security threats and attacks while keeping services like mail servers and web servers running.
“They’ve never seen anything like this before,” Kevin Amorin, an adjunct professor and one of two coaches for the Northeastern team, says. “When they get involved and they see it up close, they really get engaged. It’s exciting and new and introduces them to a whole bunch of new topics.”
The competition rules mandate that of the eight people on each team, only two can be graduate students – the other six are all undergraduates. In order to recruit students for the team, Amorin and co-coach Derek Brodeur host events in September and October to show interested students what the competition is all about.
“The students go through these technical labs and learn what it is to secure an environment and how to handle hackers that are coming in and attacking the system,” Amorin says. “You have to monitor your systems, you have to understand where they’re coming from, how they’re attacking you.”
This year’s victory at the regional level wasn’t always a given. At the end of day one, the team wasn’t one of the top three. By day two, the team made it into the top three, and by the final day of the competition on March 13, Northeastern was first.
“It’s a great experience for anyone interested in cyber security and it tests you to your absolute limits,” says Alex Interrante-Grant (BSCE ’17), who has served as CCDC team caption for two years. “The team did an outstanding job this year and I probably speak for Kevin and Derek too when I say we’re proud of what the team has accomplished so far and excited to go to nationals.”
By Shandana Mufti