Author: Amy Tetta
Categories: Computer Science

Seth Taylor ’99 and William Deitrick ’13 won special honors at the U.S. Cyber Challenge Eastern Regional Cyber Camp, a week of specialized cybersecurity training.  The camp was conducted June 24-28, 2013, in Roanoke, Virginia, and was co-hosted by Virginia Tech.   Both men received special honors, with Deitrick’s team emerging as the winners of a virtual capture the flag event that capped off the week.

“The admission process for the camp began in April 2013 with the CyberQuests challenge, a qualifying competition with a 30-question test about the contents of a packet capture that showed some network attacks in progress,” Taylor, who teaches a networking class at Houghton College, explained. 

Out of 1400 contestants worldwide (70 international), Houghton College had two students and two alumni place in the top 100 from the U.S.  Taylor placed sixth and Deitrick nineteenth in the competition.  Due to their high scores, both were accepted to the summer camp and given full tuition, room and board. 

Camp curriculum included in-depth workshops on a range of topics, including penetration testing, reverse engineering, and forensics, taught by college faculty; SANS Institute (a computer security training organization) senior instructors; and other cybersecurity experts.

“The training covered four topics, one topic per day, from various cybersecurity fields in a very hands-on manner,” described Taylor.  “There was also a lot of exposure to professionals in the field at an executive roundtable and an ethics panel.  The attendees were not just college students or recent college grads.  There were also many mid-career security professionals [in attendance].”

A highlight of the camp was a capture the flag (a cyber-tournament) event in which 50 attendees participated.  This was a team competition, with about ten teams of five contestants each.  Individual rankings were also tabulated during the event.   Deitrick’s team jumped out to an early lead, and, nearly five hours later, won the competition, earning $1000 of security training for each team member.  In the individual rankings, Taylor placed fourth overall, while Deitrick placed eleventh. 

U.S. Cyber Challenge is a program of the National Board of Information Security Examiners, a 501(c)3 organization, and has the mission to significantly reduce the shortage in the cyber workforce by serving as the premier program to identify, attract, recruit and place the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.  USCC's goal is to find 10,000 of America's best and brightest to fill the ranks of cybersecurity professionals where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation.