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Cadets take 1st at regional cyberdefense competition
Cadet 4th Class Anthony Canino, left, and Cadet 2nd Class Matthew Toussain discuss network defenses during a National Collegiate Cyber Defense "At Large" regional competition at the Air Force Academy March 6, 2011. The Air Force Academy took first place in the regional event and will compete in nationals April 8-10. Cadet Canino is assigned to Cadet Squadron 12, and Cadet Toussain is assigned to CS 17. (courtesy photo/Jeff Scaparra)
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Cadets take 1st place in regional cyber competition

Posted 3/10/2011   Updated 3/10/2011 Email story   Print story


by Gino Mattorano
Academy Spirit editor

3/10/2011 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Cadets from the Academy's department of computer science took first place at the National Collegiate Cyber Defense "At Large" Regional Competition March 5-6.

The win qualifies the Academy's cyber team for the national competition in San Antonio April 8-10.

The Academy team competed against seven other teams from the University of Hawaii, University of Alaska, University of New Mexico, Colorado State University, Utah State and Penn State University.

Teams competed remotely, from their respective computer labs, based on a scenario provided by the competition administrators.

"Basically, they were given the job of administering a fully functional network that has been previously set up," said team coach Dr. Martin Carlisle. "They are given no knowledge of this network before the competition begins."

Teams have to analyze their network and determine how best to secure it from intruders.

Dr. Carlisle, a professor and deputy for academics for the Academy's Computer Science Department, said the network starts in a very unsecure configuration. As soon as teams begin their analysis, "red cell" teams begin trying to break into their computers.

While all this is going on, teams are also given tasks from the "white cell," which simulates management of a company, to perform various day-to-day tasks like adding printers, setting up a new server, generating reports, etc. In addition, agents from the FBI also participated in the exercise, and students could earn points by generating proper law enforcement reports on "red cell" activities.

Dr. Carlisle said he was very pleased with the Academy team's first-place finish, especially since this was the first time they had participated in this competition.

"Our white cell liaison (i.e. referee) said that he was very impressed with how well the cadets worked together as a team, as he often sees students shouting at each other under the stress of the competition," Dr. Carlisle said.

The Academy team now begins preparation for competing at the national-level competition next month.

"It is quite an honor to be able to go to nationals," Dr. Carlisle said. "I anticipate the competition there will be quite fierce, as some schools participate year after year, and schools that have graduate programs can also include two graduate students on their teams."

Nonetheless, Dr. Carlisle said he is certain the cadets will represent the Academy well.

Cadets on the team include: Cadet 2nd Class Jordan Keefer, Cadet Squadron 37 (Team Captain); Cadet 2nd Class Chris Shields, CS 17; Cadet 2nd Class Matt Toussain, CS 17; Cadet 3rd Class Frank Adkins, CS 21; Cadet 3rd Class James Africano, CS 11; Cadet 3rd Class Josh Christman, CS 07; Cadet 3rd Class Nate Hart, CS 13; and Cadet 4th Class Anthony Canino, CS 12.

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