Students fight hackers in new competition

By Perris Njenga - Staff Reporter

While many Highline students will be enjoying their spring break, a small group will be busy fighting cyber attacks here on campus.

Highline Information Technology Specialist Kip Wanzer and Solutions Architect Kurt Giessel talked about the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (PRCCDC) during last Friday's Science Seminar.

The event was originally created out of a need for students trained in information assurance and has rapidly grown over the years, even getting sponsored by Boeing, Amazon and more.

Students sometimes bring their resumes and do interviews with the sponsors, some of them even getting jobs, Wanzer said.

The cyber defense competition provides students with real-world challenges in thwarting hackers while maintaining a corporate network that cannot be replicated in a typical classroom. This type of practice gives students better training and preparation for the workforce.

"Students have to run and manage a fake business and defend their networks from the red team while still maintaining their business from other obstacles we put in their way," Giessel said.

There are a total of five teams, each responsible for a certain part of the competition.

The blue team is made up of eight students who will be running and defending their fake business. The white team is made up of the competition officials, who observe the student's performance and are responsible for creating the scenarios. 

The black team is responsible for the physical workstations and routers, and the orange team are a group of volunteers acting as customers and are assigned to call and email the teams during the competition.

The red team is a group of highly skilled hackers who try to gain unauthorized access to the students' business system by stealing usernames, passwords and other important information.

"One year a student was hacked by the red team and took control of his mouse. The student tried sending a report to the white team but every time he tried to write the email report, the hacker would push backspace and he eventually wrote 'RED TEAM RULES' and sent the email," Giessel said.

While the first year the event took place on the Microsoft Campus, since 2010 it has taken place at Highline from March 23 through March 25.

First place winners get a free trip to San Antonio, Texas to compete in the National Championship.

This week's Science Seminar will be Friday, March 9, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:35 p.m. in Building 3, Room 102. There, Chris Boudreaux will be talking about The Science of Star Wars.

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