April 06, 2006

SIUC team wins regional cyber defense contest

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A team of eight Southern Illinois University Carbondale students took first place at the first Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition held March 24-26 at the University of Illinois in Urbana. The Indiana Institute of Technology finished second, while the University of Illinois finished third.

Designed to test the students' ability to secure a corporate computer network and keep it running and functional while under attack by hackers and "cyber terrorists," the contest pitted eight teams from Midwestern community colleges and universities against professionals from the Cyber Defense Agency, a four-year-old information security company headquartered in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

"This competition is the first to create, as closely as possible, a realistic corporate administration and security experience, giving the competitors a chance to compare their education and training against their peers and the real world challenges that await them," the company says on its Web site.

SIUC's team consisted of Joshua F. Backfield, a senior in electronic systems technology from Springfield; Daniel R. Booth, a junior in information systems technology from Elkville; Timothy J. Davis, a sophomore in information systems technology from Pontiac; Jeremy W. Lawler, a junior in computer science and electrical engineering from Westmont; Anil Mehta, a doctoral student in engineering science from Bombay, India; John G. "Greg"Pangrazio, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering from Island Lake; Teri A. Rybacki, a senior in information systems technology from Du Quoin; Travis Young, a junior in information systems technologies from Chester.

"Five of the eight members work as student workers or graduate assistants in SIUC's information technology department," William Devenport, director of the School of Information Management Systems and Applied Technology, said.

"They credit much of the team's success to the blend of their academic preparation and the ‘real world' (training) received through their work experiences."

As regional winners, SIUC's team will go on to the first-ever national competition set for April 21-23 at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where they will compete against that university as well as against Millersville (Pennsylvania) University and the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

Achieving excellence in undergraduate and graduate education is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.

(Caption : Cyber defense champs – An eight-member team from Southern Illinois University Carbondale captured first place in the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in Urbana. Team members and advisers include (front, from left): Belle Woodward, professor of information systems and applied technologies and team adviser, Tim Davis, Anil Mehta, Teri Rybacki and Chet Langin, Information Technology network security analyst and team adviser; (back, from left) Greg Pangrazio, Travis Young, Daniel Booth, Jeremy Lawler, Josh Backfield and Curt Wilson, Information Technology network security officer.)