Cybercriminals look to exploit gaps in intelligence and information security networks to steal what they are after. Their methods are continually evolving and so too must the efforts of cyber defense teams.

Each year the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, or CCDC, provides college students across the country an opportunity to flex their cyber skills in a competitive environment. It also highlights the students’ competency in managing the challenges that come with protecting corporate network infrastructure and business information systems.

The CCDC features a national competition preceded by nine regional competitions around the country. As part of the Western Regional CCDC event, students from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University compete against teams from Arizona, California and Nevada.

The competition is meant to simulate what a security team within a business setting would experience while monitoring their environments and during live attacks. The scenarios enacted over the course of the event are a good example of what a high-stress environment could look like in cybersecurity, and they demonstrate the need for teamwork and collaboration.

This year, led by captain Leilani Sears, a computer science major in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, one of the seven Fulton Schools, the ASU team had their best finish ever in the Western Regional. They won third place overall and first place in the defense category. ASU has competed annually in the competition since 2015.

“The competition is centered around a simulation of a business environment that is undergoing live attacks throughout the duration of the competition,” Sears says. “Ultimately, the purpose is incident response, cyber defense and monitoring a diverse infrastructure while completing business tasks such as configuring systems, providing comprehensive reports and risk analysis of vulnerable systems.”

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