Messiah Students Participate in Cyber Defense Competition

On February 4, students from Messiah University participated in the collegiate cyber defense competition, a six-hour-long cyber security inherit and defend competition. This year’s scenario was to inherit a fictitious shipping company’s infrastructure and harden it before the hackers started attacking it. Students worked as a team to fix problems, harden the infrastructure, update, and ensure service availability all while being given business tasks from the company such as writing newsletters, acceptable use policies, and getting Graylog working.

This was the first year that Messiah University has participated in the competition. Led by coach Dr. Bibighaus and captain Ray Truex, a team was quickly formed and preparation started. The team roster included Luke Anderson, Justin Ayres, Chris Copeland, Ryan Donat, Delainey Gray, Aidan Hubly, Brandon Snook, Michael Stefanchik, Grace Taylor, Ray Truex, Shane Wahlberg, and Xavier Zepiora.  Each team member was assigned a certain machine to work on either apps, core, files, virtual, data, logs, and saas.

During the competition, the team was able to see a scoreboard showing which services were up and running and which were down, in addition to total score and place. After the competition, Xavier Zepiora said “we were not off to a great start, showing up as last place on the scoreboard at the start, but after a few hours of having all of our services up and running we slowly started climbing places passing other teams”. Messiah University went from last place to a high of thirteenth place. By the end of the competition the team was ranked 15th out of 29, which meant the team did not place in the top eight teams which move on to regionals. A few days after the event, the competition director notified the team of our final score, which was 11th out of 26. 

Ryan Donat, Michael Stefanchik, and Shane Wahlberg are seniors this year and will not be able to compete next year but are still excited for the future of the team. After the competition Shane Wahlberg said “I am so excited for the future of the team, this was the first year and we just wanted to see what the competition was like. I think we did pretty good for it being our first year”. After having one competition under the team’s belt, the team is ready to start recruiting and preparing for next year. The team has a large list of items that they now know they need to work on more in-depth. The main goal in training for the next competition include having a CCDC virtual environment where the team can practice during their meetings. Some team members hope to go to regionals as volunteers to gain more experience and talk to other teams to learn from how they prepare for the event. Just because the competition for this year is over for the team does not mean that practice and training is over, the team will continue training and recruiting until the next event.

*This post was written by Messiah Cybersecurity major Ray Truex. If you are a Messiah Cybersecurity student and you’re interested in joining the CCDC team, reach out to Ray for more information.