RU Cyber Defense Club earns second in statewide competition

Members of Radford University's Cyber Defense Club compete at the Virginia Fusion Cyber Cup Competition.
Members of Radford University's Cyber Defense Club compete at the Virginia Fusion Cyber Cup Competition.

Radford University's Cyber Defense Club (CDC) earned second place at the inaugural Virginia Fusion Cyber Cup Competition on Feb. 25 at Virginia Military Institute.

The Highlanders competed against eight schools from throughout the Commonwealth, narrowly losing to Virginia Tech in the last 15 minutes of the competition and missing the top spot by just .055 percent (60 points out of 1,100).

Team members, coached by Associate Professor of Computer Science Prem Uppuluri, included Jacob Walters, Mehdi Himmiche, Harry Frank, Joey Burt, Michael Basala and Sean Anderson. Joining the participating team members were students Ben Adams, Carlie Addicks, Danielle Pompa and Matthew Wallace who served as observers to prepare for future competitions.

Darrell Parsons, an instructor in the Department of Information Technology, accompanied the team on the trip.

During the competition, teams tackled problems in scenarios designed to model real-world computer security challenges across a range of categories that include cryptography, network traffic analysis, reverse engineering, steganography, memory forensics and pen-testing.

Burt, a senior majoring in Computer Science, has been a member of the CDC since last fall. The experience has positively impacted his social and academic life, he said.

"The club has truly improved my experience here at Radford," he said. "My membership in the club has presented multiple opportunities to enhance my knowledge in cybersecurity and practice skills that are essential in the industry in a team setting."

At the competition, Walters - sophomore Computer Science major - said he was proud to represent Radford on a national stage.

"The competition was a good opportunity to meet with others in the field and be able to compete and see who has the best program in the state," Walters said. "I enjoyed not only having the opportunity of competing but being able to talk to companies that were looking for workers and getting to know their experience in the field."

The Cyber Cup event also incorporated a job fair, keynote speaker and panel discussions that highlighted the Virginia Cyber Range, a Commonwealth initiative with a mission to enhance cybersecurity education in high schools, community colleges and universities.

The range provides an extensive courseware repository for educators and a cloud-hosted virtual environment where students will practice what they have learned in immersive, hands-on laboratory exercises to complement their cybersecurity courses. The Cyber Range will largely operate as a virtual center. Offerings will be crafted and hosted in the “cloud,” where they can be accessed by participating schools and agencies. This approach will allow for easy customization, scalability, and responsiveness, while minimizing costs.

The Virginia Cyber Range brings together faculty from George Mason University, James Madison University, Longwood University, Norfolk State University, Virginia Tech, and Radford University, as well as faculty from Lord Fairfax Community College, Northern Virginia Community College and Tidewater Community College.

Mar 24, 2017
Mary Hardbarger