February 15, 2013

‘Security Dawgs’ prepare for cyber defense event

by Joaquin Norman

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The “hack attack” will be in full force next week for information systems technology students on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus.

Members of the SIU Carbondale “Security Dawgs” will keep watch for cyber attacks and unwanted viruses during the Illinois Cyber Defense Competition on Feb. 23.  SIU is again one of three sites in Illinois that will host the statewide competition, which replicates what students will see in the corporate information technology world.

“The best thing about this competition is that it will mirror exactly what our students will see at the corporate level. Our goal is to have our students prepared for that type of dynamic environment,” said Tom Imboden, an assistant professor in Information Systems and Applied Technologies. 

And while the “Security Dawgs” compete alongside Lake Land College in Mattoon on campus, area community college and high school students will also have an opportunity to learn more about cyber security, tour ISAT facilities, and also complete in a mock cyber defense competition.  Security experts will be available to discuss their careers during the event, which is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in room 111 of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts building.  To register, contact Imboden by email at timboden@siu.edu by Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the Illinois Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition at SIU Carbondale, Saturday, Feb. 23, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Go to the Computer Learning Center, room 112, in the Applied Sciences and Arts Building C. For more information contact Tom Imboden, Information Systems and Applied Technologies assistant professor, at 618/453-7296 or by e-mail at timboden@siu.edu.

In addition to SIU Carbondale and Lake Land College, other schools competing elsewhere in the state are Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, DePaul University, DeVry University of Chicago, Governors State University, Illinois State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, and Joliet Junior College.

In the competition, each team takes over a mock business’ IT department.  Competitors staff the company’s IT system with only a very basic knowledge of the existing network configuration, while a group of hackers -- professional security analysts from global security companies volunteering their time -- attack the business network.  While working to keep their site secure from hackers and unwanted cyber attacks, teams also are responsible for system maintenance, upgrades, and completing other requests, such as installing or upgrading a website.  Teams earn points based on the how successful they are accomplishing the business tasks, in addition to identifying and stopping hacker attacks, and writing incident reports.

The competition lasts about eight hours.

Travis Cooper, a senior in information systems technologies from Charleston, is the “Security Dawgs” team leader.  Cooper said he is confident in the team’s practices and classroom instruction, and the group is using a mock security environment to practice.

Cooper said the team also has great guidance from Imboden, the faculty adviser for the group’s registered student organization.  The RSO primarily consists of information systems technology students but continually encourages students from other majors to participate.  Additional RSO information is available from Imboden.

“He has led the RSO through several of these competitions over the last few years so he brings a wealth of knowledge from those previous experiences," Cooper said.

Imani Hudson, a junior majoring in information systems technologies from Chicago, is an alternate, and will compete for the first time. She anticipates the team will put its best defensive stance forward and be successful, and also expects the competition will be a learning experience.

Cooper said he has high expectations for the team.  Four of eight team members have prior experience, and the other four “bring valuable knowledge in varying areas,” he said.

The top team in the state will advance to the Midwest Regional Competition, March 22-23, also at Moraine Valley Community College, to face the top teams from Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.  The seventh annual National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition is April 19-21, in San Antonio, Texas.

Competing for SIU Carbondale, listed by hometown, major, and year in school are:


  • Albion: Marcus Wood (alternate); information systems technologies; sophomore.
  • Bloomington: Bryan Arnold; information systems technologies; senior.
  • Charleston: Travis Cooper (Team Leader); information systems technologies; junior.
  • Chicago: Byron Canohui (alternate); information systems technologies; senior.
  • Chicago: Imani Hudson (alternate); information systems technologies; junior.
  • Homer Glen: Mateusz Skubisz; information systems technologies; senior.
  • Johnston City: John Zachary Moore; business administration; graduate student.
  • Shelbyville: Calen Barker; information systems technologies; senior.
  • Shelbyville: Larry Elliot; information systems technologies; senior .
  • St. Elmo: Alexander Radcliff; information systems technologies; senior.
  • Thompsonville: Gary Clark; information systems technologies; senior