When Rochester Institute of Technology's collegiate cyber defense team gets hacked, they call it practice.
Four days a week, the students can be found in the lab learning about the technical aspects of different computer systems and strategizing how to defend against attackers.
April 13-15, the team, including Kyle Carretto, of Corfu, put its skills to the test against the country's top cybersecurity colleges in the 2017 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, held in San Antonio, Texas. The annual championship is part of the nation's largest college-level cyber defense competition, an extracurricular event that helps to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts.
For the competition, students must defend a mock company's network infrastructure from a team of industry professionals who are assigned to break in and exploit the company's information.
To prepare for the event, students spend months getting a baseline of every possible computer system that could be used in the competition, learning about the different networks and protocols. They also practice by simulating the attackers, who are known as the red team. They run scenarios to defend against possible attacks, including an attack on their network and the installation of malware-tools used by the red team to gain unauthorized access to the student's systems.
Throughout the school year, the RIT team developed several plans of action for what to do during the competition. But these plans will often change during the first few hours of competition and the team has to react very quickly to a variety of unpredictable situations.
In addition to fending off attackers, the students need to please the bosses of the mock company. The team must respond to business injects, which represent the typical activities of a system administrator, including running monitoring software and adding and removing services.
For the cybersecurity students, CCDC is a fun space to test the skills they've learned both in and out of the classroom. It also serves as a place to meet employers. Raytheon, Walmart, IBM and the CIA are among the many industry sponsors for the event.
In the past, RIT has been among the top contenders at the national competition in San Antonio, placing third in 2015, second in 2014 and winning the national title in 2013. RIT received an automatic berth to the 2017 nationals after winning the Northeast regional competition in March.
Other regional winners competing for this year's national title include University of South Alabama, Brigham Young University, DePaul University, University of Washington, California State University Northridge, Montana Tech, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Tulsa and University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Rochester Institute of Technology is home to leading creators, entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers. Founded in 1829, RIT enrolls about 19,000 students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, making it among the largest private universities in the U.S.
The university is internationally recognized and ranked for academic leadership in business, computing, engineering, imaging science, liberal arts, sustainability, and fine and applied arts. RIT also offers unparalleled support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. Global partnerships include campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai and Kosovo.
For news, photos and videos, go to www.rit.edu/news