CSUSB’s Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) team participated in the first of two invitationals on Nov. 11. The team is preparing for the next invotational on Dec. 2, the Qualifier on Jan. 20, the Regional Competition Mar. 24-26, and hopefully Nationals Apr. 13-15.
“CCDC is a simulated computer operations competition. Teams are placed into an environment that represents virtual e-commerce businesses and teams are tasked to defend and protect the company systems from professional hackers,” said Linux leader Luis Pena, a CSUSB senior. “The end goal is to secure the business and perform real world tasks that a company might [request of a cyber security business].”
CSUSB has participated in CCDC for over five years now, according to team captain Drew Allensworth.
During the school year, the team meets about once per week, often on Friday or Saturday, to discuss important information, train new members, and get a game plan together.
CSUSB’s team competes in the Western Region of CCDC (WRCCDC) with only eight students officially on the team roster and up to two substitutes in case of illness or emergency.
To help students get a taste of what the competition will be like, CCDC hosts two invitationals, one of which has already occurred for this year’s competition.
The goal of invitationals is not to be an exact replication of how the actual competition will go, but more of a time for team leaders to assess the current skill set of the team and organize tasks.
There are two concentrations that team members can choose to focus on during the competition: Linux and Windows.
The Linux portion is ran by CSUSB senior Luis Pena and the Windows portion is ran by Drew Allensworth, CSUSB senior.
“Most students come in with a set of skills in a specific area, but here we push you to become more comfortable in several areas,” explained Allensworth. “Our goal is to let members test those new skills during invitationals.”
After invitationals, teams compete in the Qualifier to be one of the top eight schools to move on to Regionals. The amount of teams participating in the qualifiers for the past few years has been on a rise, with this year estimated to be over 20 teams.
Regionals take place over a three day period, and in past years has been hosted at Cal Poly Pomona. The first two days are the actual competition, with the last day being debriefs and the awards ceremony.
“The competition consists of eight team members from each school receiving an environment of a small business without secure protection that [the team] is required to secure,” stated Windows web service member and second year student James Block.
The top one school at Regionals moves on to Nationals, which consists of the number one team from each of the ten regions. CSUSB has hopes to one day beat the top schools in WRCCDC and take on Nationals.
Block explained that CSUSB’s team is open to all technology majors, not exclusively for Cyber Security students.
“Anyone is welcome, as long as they are ready to learn and put a lot of time into meetings, practices, and studying,” said Block.
CSUSB CCDC members encourage cyber security students to participate in the challenging yet exciting competition because a class can only be so hands on when it comes to protecting a business’s cyber presence.
“The gap between the university level and the professional level is massive,” stated Pena. “Unless someone is already in the security field, it’s hard to get this amount of hands on experience anywhere else.”