University News

U.S. Cyber Challenge Trains Students and Professionals

July 19, 2017
Author: Lexi Carter
Category: Academics


Students and professionals listening to a lectureThe U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) kicked off its 2017 boot camp season at Southern Utah University last week. At the Western Regional Cyber Camp, participants received intensive instruction from professors and SANS instructors. The week ended with a cyber hacking challenge and inspiring speech from Luke McCormack, former CIO of the Department of Homeland Security.

Dr. Rob Robertson, Computer Science and Information Systems department chair and director of the Master of Cyber Security and Information Assurance helped run the camp with CSIS Administrative Assistant Mary Gillens. 24 participants attended the camp, ranging from current SUU students to high-ranking industry professionals. After preliminary quizzes held this spring, top candidates were sent invitations to their respective camps across the country. Anyone who received an invitation west of the Mississippi River attended camp at Southern Utah University.

“The nation now sees SUU as one of the leaders in cyber security,” said Robertson. “We had two students who attended the camp and their education from SUU prepared them to learn and compete alongside industry professionals.”

Landon Beach, a senior computer science major, was one of two SUU students invited to the Western Regional Cyber Camp. As the club president for SUU’s Cyber Defense Competitions Club, Beach has competed against other universities on a state and national level in cyber defense. He is also a student worker in SUU’s IT Security Office where he applies his education directly to real threats the university faces in cyber security.

“I felt like I had a lot of training from SUU and was on par with everyone else in attendance,” said Beach. “My education has given me the knowledge and experience to defend against the growing cyber threats in our world.”

For the first four days of the camp, participants received instruction from industry professionals, SUU professors and SANS instructors. The SANS Institute is the most trusted and largest source for information security training and certification in the world, offering immersive training directly to organizations in need of cyber protection. The intensive classwork programming included penetration testing, packet crafting, program analysis and memory forensics.

Students working together on their computersThe last day of the camp was the annual USCC Capture-the-Flag competition. Teams battled for four hours, doing their best to hack into systems and answer trivia questions. In the end, Team Four proved with winner with teammates Nathan Coats, Zach Cutler, Ronnie Miller, and Jason Waits.

At the awards ceremony held Friday, July 14, the former CIO of the Department of Homeland Security Luke McCormack addressed the camp participants about the importance of cyber security.

“Whether you are at the early or middle part of your career, you are the frontline defense in cyber security,” said McCormack. “I always told my employees that there’s no SEAL Team 6 ready to break through the ceiling and save the day. You are the SEAL Team 6. Recognize that, band together, and bolster your skills through these types of programs. Encourage others to do the same because there is a big need in this country for skilled cyber security professionals.”

Other ceremony speakers included Dr. Rob Robertson, and Founder and National Director of USCC, Karen S. Evans.

With SUU’s newly established Master of Cyber Security and Information Assurance program, students are being trained by industry professionals in cutting edge techniques to analyze, identify and defend against cyber threats.

“We see a lot of news about cyber security and a growing gap in the work force, meaning there are a lot more jobs out there than we have qualified individuals to fill,” said Robertson. “One of the main goals of these camps is to elevate the skills of our cyber professionals to fill those positions across the nation.”

Students working at 2017 Cyber ChallengeThe 2017 Cyber Summer Camp Series features three week-long camps located in Delaware, Illinois and Utah. The camps are an integral part of the USCC mission to identify and develop cyber security talent in order to reduce the nation’s cyber security workforce gap. Participants are encouraged to continue developing their skills and network with like-minded individuals by becoming active members in CyberCompEx.org, an online community specifically geared toward cyber security enthusiasts.

“At the heart of protecting our nation from cyber security threats is identifying and employing highly skilled cyber security professionals,” stated National Director Karen S. Evans. “The mission of the U.S. Cyber Challenge, to identify and train our future leaders in cyber security, is an essential step of reducing our nation’s shortage in the cyber security workforce.”

The Western Regional camp is supported in part through partnerships with Amazon Web Services, the Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM), Adaptive Cyber, Cambridge Global, Center for Cyber Safety & Education, CenturyLink, Cyber Ninjas, Cyber Vista, Defense Point Security LLC, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal CIO Council, (ISC)2, Monster Government Solutions, NIC, PCMG, Procession Systems, Queen Associates, SANS Institute, and Sherman Consulting. Local sponsors include Imperva, Nuix, Net Force and Reliaquest.

To learn more about SUU’s Master of Cyber Security and Information Assurance, visit https://www.suu.edu/graduatestudies/degrees/cyber-security.html or contact the Graduate & Online School at 435-865-8665 or onlineadmissions@suu.edu.



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