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Students put to test in cybersecurity competition

February 3, 2019

It was quiet in the halls of Ivy Tech’s Coliseum Campus on Saturday as a series of collegiate teams focused on beating back a group of hackers bent on sowing chaos. 

The Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition brought together six teams of eight to 10 college students from Ivy Tech, Indiana Tech, Purdue West Lafayette, Purdue Global, Purdue Northwest and Indiana University to defend a mock business infrastructure from professional hackers. The hackers, called the Red Team, are tasked with breaking each team’s cybersecurity.

“In the last hour, the Red Team goes ballistic. It’s funny,” Darryl Togashi, the competition’s Indiana director, said. “It’s really exciting to see how the teams start to coagulate together.” 

The winner of the competition will move on to the regional competition with a chance to go to nationals in Washington, D.C.

Alumni of the competition often go on to work for companies like Google, Cisco, Walmart, Discover Card, Amazon, Dell Secure Works, Microsoft, or the U.S. government, Matt Hansen, the Indiana Tech team adviser, said. 

“I’ve been involved with the team for 10 years and as far as I can recall, there has only been one student who has graduated and been an alumni of the team who hasn’t had a job lined up for a significant margin above market value coming out of school in exactly what they want to do,” Hansen said. 

Indiana Tech has been competing for 12 years, Hansen said, and has won the regional competition nine times. 

Hansen said he was part of the team as a student at Indiana Tech himself. It’s incredible, he said, to see how the competition develops the students.

“The skills that these students get out of this is incredible and I’ve seen some this year that when they started in September I wouldn’t hire them as one of my interns,” Hansen said. “Now, I would hire them full-time, for sure.”

The competition is a great résumé addition for students looking for a career after college, Hansen added.

“If you make it to nationals, all the big industry people are there,” Hansen said. “After the first day of competition they open up a giant ballroom with 40 or 50 different sponsors.”

For some of the event’s local sponsors, the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition is a way to find potential employees.

“One of the big things here for us really to see how we keep these young men and women in the community versus going to the East Coast or the West Coast,” Darrell Keeling, vice president of information security at Parkview Health and an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech, said. 

“It’s really exciting to see this age group start collaborating and start talking about how they’re going to approach something. It looks like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes in the regular workplace you don’t see that.”

dgong@jg.net

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