Towson students put cybersecurity skills to the test

Six-student TU team defeats local universities to win 2011 Maryland Cyber Challenge

TOWSON, Md. (Oct. 24, 2011)—A team of Towson University students won the first-ever Maryland Cyber Challenge held at the Baltimore Convention Center on Sunday, Oct. 22.

A joint venture between governmental, private and nonprofit organizations, the two-day Maryland Cyber Challenge and Conference (MDC3) was created to raise public awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to strengthen the state's cybersecurity work force.

The Maryland Cyber Challenge helped achieve that mission by pitting high school, college and professional participants against one another in a series of real-world cybersecurity games. Teams earned points for defending their systems from attackers and/or fixing vulnerabilities, and were also scored for their ability to document and communicate findings and work as a team. Groups that were successfully attacked lost points until they fixed the problem that allowed the attack to take place

Twelve collegiate teams participated in the qualifying round held online, but only eight were selected for the in-person Cyber Challenge. Towson competed against such schools as University of Maryland College Park, who placed second, University of Maryland Baltimore County and University of Maryland University College.

Mike O’Leary, director of TU’s Center for Applied Information Technology and professor in the departments of mathematics and computer and information sciences, coaches the TU team, which includes: Andrea Mobley (team captain); Brian Cather; Jonathan Fragale; Dustin Hanks; Dennis Hayden; and Roberto Melendez.

“The competition was extremely close,” says O’Leary. “It took the organizers 30 minutes after the competition concluded to finish accounting for all of the scoring events, and let's just say that waiting for the final announcement made for a very antsy team.”

Each participating TU student received a $5,000 scholarship from the National Security Agency and will be offered a paid summer internship position with engineering and technology firm SAIC. The team will also be honored at an invitation-only dinner and awards ceremony to be held at UMBC on Friday, Nov. 18.

Of the last four major cyber defense competitions in the region, Towson has won three: the 2010 CCDC Mid-Atlantic Regionals, the 2010 CSC Cyb3rBattl3ground and the 2011 MDC3.






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