February 21, 2007
Cyber defense team prepares for competition
CARBONDALE, Ill. — As they prepare to host the Illinois Regional College Cyber Defense Competition this weekend, the members of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's team are focusing on more than the technical skills used to thwart computer hackers.
Teamwork and cohesiveness are necessary ingredients in most settings, including for businesses and their computer support personnel. SIUC coach Belle Woodward, an assistant professor in information systems and applied technologies, used a simulation in a recent practice that lasted 12 hours – until 5:30 a.m. – to challenge her squad.
Successful teams must not only be technically savvy, but also "come together and learn some of the soft skills that industry keeps talking about — teamwork, team cohesiveness and learning to teach each other," Woodward said.
"There is no such thing as working on an island," she said. "What they learn here they can use throughout their careers."
Students from five universities and community colleges will defend a corporate computer network — and keep it running and functional — against a cyber-attack during the two-day competition that starts Friday afternoon.
Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the competition. Participant interviews during the competition will be available. Contact Information Systems and Applied Technologies Director Will R. Devenport at 618/453-7253 prior to the event to make interview arrangements.
The competition runs from 1 to 9 p.m. on Friday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday on campus. Announcement of the winners is set for noon Sunday during an awards ceremony at the Carbondale Civic Center.
SIUC's School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies, part of the College of the Applied Sciences and Arts, is hosting the competition.
Each of the five, eight-member teams will be sequestered in private labs and receive identical sets of equipment — network systems of computer servers, clients, routers and switches – to model "Crapht Foods International," a small business.
Hired as security consultants, the teams find themselves in situations where the systems are functional but not necessarily secure, Woodward said. They have one hour to secure the environment, but at the same time, they will also receive business injects to update and make the environment more secure. About 80 computers will be in use during the competition.
The multiple operating systems will require various network functions such as Web, e-mail and database services. Security professionals from SAVVIS, Inc., will attempt to disrupt each team's operations throughout the competition.
In addition to SIUC, DePaul University, Illinois State University, the University of Illinois and Moraine Valley Community College are competing. The winner advances to the Midwest Regional — which SIUC won in 2006 — March 16-18 to face winning teams from Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. Regional winners compete in the second national competition April 13-15, at the University of Texas at San Antonio. SIUC finished fourth in last year's national event.
Three graduates from last year's SIUC team landed jobs quickly, including two by LURHQ, a managed information security service. Organizations including the National Security Agency and FBI participate in the competition at the national level and recruit future employees, Woodward said.
She emphasized that SIUC's team works well together, but the scrimmage is helping preparation. Eleven other members of the Information Management Systems 392 class, many who will comprise next year's squad, served in various roles throughout the scrimmage — including judging, injecting business process events, and trying to hack their way into the simulated system. Faculty members videotaped the simulated exercise for pre-contest team review this week.
Team captains Michael Sanders and Shanda R. Owens said the preparation heading into this weekend — practices started in September — is important. Working on different operating systems and simulating problems the team might face is helpful, said Sanders, a junior in computer science from Peoria.
Owens, a junior in computer science from Lansing, Kan., is looking forward to the competition. She is interested in security, and agreed that working together as a team is important for success.
"This is a good learning experience," she said.
With each competition, there are variations in the ways systems are configured and work, said Jeremy W. Lawler, a senior in computer science and electrical engineering from Westmont. Lawler, Timothy Davis, a sophomore in information systems technology from Pontiac, and Daniel R. Booth, a senior in information systems technology from Elkville return from last year's team.
"Even though we have been through this before there is still so much that is unknown," Lawler said. "That is a big part of it."
Other team members, all majoring in information systems technology, are: Jesse R. Adams, a senior, from Robinson; Robert J. Heren, a senior, from Carbondale; Shawn Weccele, a senior with degree, from Bluford; and Darren P. Sheldon, a senior, from McLean.
Caption 2 Below
Photo 1– (cyber_battle.jpg and cyber_battle_sm.jpg)
Working for another national run — Members of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Cyber Defense team take part in a simulation prior to this week’s Illinois Regional College Cyber Defense Contest. SIUC, which finished fourth in the nation last year, hosts the five-team competition Friday through Sunday. Students from five universities and community colleges will work to defend a corporate network — and keep it running and functional — against a cyber attack during the two-day competition that starts Friday in Carbondale. Other teams competing this weekend are from DePaul University, Illinois State University, the University of Illinois and Moraine Valley Community College.
Photo by Russell Bailey
Photo 2 – (Cyber_group.jpg and cyber_group_sm.jpg)
Looking to another trip to nationals — The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Cyber Defense team competes this weekend in the first step toward another shot at the national title. SIUC hosts the five-team Illinois Regional Cyber Defense Contest Friday through Sunday. Team members are: (front row, from left) Shanda Owens, Coach Belle Woodward, an assistant professor in information systems and applied technology, Daniel R. Booth, Jesse R. Adams; (second row, from left) Michael Sanders, Darren P. Sheldon, Shawn Weccele, Robert J. Heren, Timothy Davis and Jeremy W. Lawler. Students from five universities and community colleges will work to defend a corporate network — and keep it running and functional — against a cyber attack during the two-day competition that starts Friday in Carbondale. Other teams competing this weekend are from DePaul University, Illinois State University, the University of Illinois and Moraine Valley Community College.
Photo by Russell Bailey