Kirkwood Cyber Defense Team takes first, eyes return trip to nationals

Kirkwood Community College
Published: December 10 2012 | 1:29 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:11 am in
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For some Information Technologies students at Kirkwood Community College, they will soon be in familiar territory: national competition against other top IT student teams.

The return trip to nationals is booked for students from Kirkwood’s Cyber Defense Team, after they won Iowa State University’s Community College Cyber Defense Competition in Ames in early December. This is the first time Kirkwood’s team has made the national contest in back-to-back years.

Kirkwood fielded two of the 18 teams in the state-wide community college competition. The college’s other team finished in third and has a chance to make nationals as well. It would be the first time Kirkwood has sent two teams to nationals.

“It’s always impressive to see how our Kirkwood students do in this competition every year,” said Cyber Defense Club Advisor Jim Thompson. “In a day and age when hackers are finding new ways to bring down networks, our students are doing a great job of building networks that are secure, yet still user-friendly for the end-user.”

In the competition, teams were given a window of about three weeks to build and secure a network, meeting certain requirements. Experienced intrusion specialists then tried to compromise the networks and bring them down. Teams were scored based upon the security of their networks, quality of their documentation and usability of their systems.

The competition gave students real-life experiences in cyber security and allowed them to showcase the IT and security knowledge they gained during the academic year.

First place team members were Will Rostentangle, Matt Brenton, Mark Thoman and Marc Reyes. Third place team members were Joe Steele-Thurston, Kaduhm Al-Yasseri, Jesse Koster and Casey Franks.

As the students prepare for nationals again, one team member expects to improve on the college’s sixth place finish from last year, as they once again compete against four-year colleges and universities from around the country.

“We’re hopeful we can win this, and realistically we think we’ll at least finish in the top three,” said Rostenstangle. “In talking with students from some of the four-year schools, we actually get a lot more hands-on, real-world classroom training than they do. So, I’m pretty confident in our abilities.”

More information on Kirkwood’s Cyber Defense teams and related classroom experience are available from Thompson in Kirkwood’s Business & Information Technologies department, at jim.thompson@kirkwood.edu.

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