Training the Next Generation of Cyber Defenders

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2018-03-27T07:25:46+00:00 March 22, 2018|News, Previous Event|
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Training the Next Generation of Cyber Defenders

  • 2018 Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

College students from around the Pacific Northwest will have the chance to practice thwarting hackers during the annual Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (PRCCDC). The event is scheduled for March 23–25, 2018, at Highline College.

PRCCDC provides students with real-world challenges while maintaining a corporate network that cannot be replicated in a typical classroom.

This type of competitive practice gives students better training and preparation for the workforce. Employees who understand how to deal with network intrusions and cyberattacks are more valuable to companies.

Teams from 12 colleges and universities are scheduled to participate in the 11th annual competition:

  • Bellevue College
  • Clover Park Technical College (Lakewood)
  • Columbia Basin College (Pasco)
  • Green River College (Auburn)
  • Lewis and Clark College (Portland, Oregon)
  • Peninsula College (Port Angeles)
  • Saint Martin’s University (Lacey)
  • University of Idaho (Moscow, Idaho)
  • University of Washington Bothell
  • University of Washington Seattle
  • Western Washington University (Bellingham)
  • Whatcom Community College (Bellingham)
Dr. Amelia Phillips

Dr. Amelia Phillips is director of PRCCDC and a faculty member at Highline College.

Each team consists of between six and eight students with a cap of two graduate students on each team.

Students from at least two high schools will be on hand to participate in the National Initiative for Cyber Security Education (NICE) Challenge Project and observe the competition with the hope that the students will be inspired to pursue cybersecurity as a profession.

During the competition, students may be dealing with unexpected events and challenges. Students will be facing real-world scenarios, such as people being laid off, installation of a new server and more, all while being under attack by professional hackers, also known as penetration testers.

The hackers will be trained professionals from government agencies, National Guard, Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and local industry.

Open to two- and four-year colleges and universities in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, PRCCDC serves as the regional competition for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC). The University of Washington Seattle won PRCCDC in 2017.

This is Highline’s ninth year hosting the regional event.

Using the computer labs on Highline’s campus, the students in the competition will need to maintain a company network while they are being attacked.

Competitors will need to secure the operating systems, email servers, websites and other parts of a business network. They must also update their websites, create new user accounts and perform other standard business activities while delivering excellent customer service to irate customers who call in.

The primary objective of the competition is to provide students with real-world challenges.

The second objective is to give potential employers — the sponsors — a chance to observe students under pressure.

As part of the competition, breakfast and dinner events will be held to allow students to do short interviews with the sponsors and allow sponsors to talk to those students they may be interested in hiring.

Sponsors include Airforce Civilian, Casaba, Cobalt Strike, CyberWatch West, Datrium, F5, No Starch Press and University of Washington Bothell.

The Pacific Rim region boasts national status with the University of Washington Seattle winning NCCDC in 2011 and 2012.

The national championship is scheduled for April 13–15, 2018, in San Antonio, Texas.


Students Create Network for Competition

For the third year in a row, Highline students — with support from the college’s Information Technology Services staff members — have designed the company network that will be used in the simulation, complete with intentional security flaws.

These students are enrolled in the college’s applied bachelor’s degree program in Cybersecurity and Forensics and applied associate degree programs: Network Security Engineer, Digital Forensics and Web/Database Developer.

Special Designation at Highline

In 2013, Highline earned designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance 2-Year Education (CAE2Y) from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The CAE2Y designation is awarded to community colleges that have established a high quality cybersecurity program and have mapped their courses to the current national standards of the Committee on National Security Systems.

Being a CAE2Y institution gives Highline unique standing since fewer than 40 of the nation’s 1,100 two-year colleges have achieved the designation.

The Computer Science and Computer Information Systems department at Highline prepares students for a variety of information technology–related careers, including computer programmers, network specialists, website and database developers, and data recovery and computer forensics specialists. In recent years, the department added an applied bachelor’s degree program in Cybersecurity and Forensics.