Wednesday, December 12, 2018
CCI student team finishes in top 20 of national cybersecurity competition

A student team from the College of Computing and Informatics recently defended an oil pipeline’s control system from a devastating cyberattack. This simulation was part of the Department of Defense Cyberforce Competition, in which teams from 62 colleges and universities vied nationwide.

Teams were spread across the country at seven Department of Energy labs. The CCI team, comprised of Trevon Williams, Trey Kelly, Shail Sandip Patel, Parker Garrison, Mike Petty and Rawan Al-shaer, finished third among the 12 teams working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee—and in the top 20 nationally. Tom Moyer, assistant professor of software and information systems, was the team’s adviser.

“It is important that students learn to work as a team in an environment similar to what they can expect to experience once they enter the workforce,” said Moyer.

Teams were scored on their “out-of-the-box,” innovative ideas and defenses, and on their ability to address threats without allowing an interruption to the system’s operation or daily workflow of its operators.

At one point during the eight-hour exercise, a group of more than 30 professional attackers representing the threat threw all of its resources at the CCI team and was thwarted, earning CCI’s squad high praise for using a variety of technologies to prevent the “enemy” from making changes to the system being protected. 

“Our team used a tool called Sensible to automate the process of configuring their systems. This enabled them to focus their efforts on other, more difficult problems, and let the tool do the ‘easy’ things,” said Moyer. “The attacking team noticed this and said that it was a great idea because in addition to allowing the team to focus on bigger problems, it frustrated the attackers even more.”

Photo, left to right, Moyer, Al-shaer, Patel, Williams, Kelly, Petty and Garrison.