UVA Wins 2018 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Championship

John DeSimone, Raytheon

University of Virginia won the 2018 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, defeating nine other finalist teams in a scenario that pitted them against top security experts posing as hackers.

The University of Virginia team earned the national title by successfully protecting a fictional biotech firm’s network against an onslaught of persistent cyberattacks.  The championship was held in Orlando, Florida, from April 13-15,with the top 10 college and university teams from across the nation.

More than 230 colleges and universities competed in the event, which was the the first to test cyber defense skills in a collegiate competition modeled after real-world attack scenarios.

Raytheon, a sponsor of the event, congratulated the University of Virginia on its victory, and said it hoped the event would encourage more students to pursue cybersecurity careers. Raytheon will bring the winning team to Washington, D.C., this summer to tour some of the nation’s top research and national cybersecurity sites.

“NCCDC’s systematic, professional approach to this competition and the use of real-world business scenarios  will contribute to filling the projected 1.8 million cyber job vacancies by 2022,” said John DeSimone, vice president of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “We want to congratulate University of Virginia and encourage them to continue their pursuit of cybersecurity excellence through internships and throughout their careers post-graduation.”

Dwayne Williams, director of the NCCDC, said the competition is a unique way to bring together academia, government and industry.

“Everyone recognizes we need to find and train more cyber professionals and these competitions are critical in helping meet that need,” Williams said.

Student teams were tasked with operating and managing a network infrastructure modeled on the networks found in the commercial sector, and were scored on their ability to minimize system infiltration, keep critical services in operation, and prevent exfiltration of sensitive data. This year’s competition focused on a fictional biotech firm that specializes in vaccine research, materials research, pharmaceuticals, and biomechanical organ development.

University of Central Florida placed second, and Dakota State University placed third. The other finalists include University of Alaska Fairbanks, Indiana Tech, University of Buffalo, University of Washington Seattle, Utah Valley University, Baylor University, and California State University Northridge.

NCCDC was started by the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and its sponsors include government agencies, colleges and commercial companies.

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