HTC students fight a cyber attack in a statewide IT competition

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Brooklyn Park, February 10, 2020 – A team of students from Hennepin Technical College (HTC) competed in the 2021 Minnesota State Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition on February 6, 2021.

This year over 100 students from eight different Minnesota State System institutions came together for a full day of competition and learning. The annual event is offered by the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence, which provides high school and college students a variety of resources and programs to support the ever-changing world of Information Technology and Computer Science.

Due to the pandemic, the full competition was held remotely with teams participating across Minnesota. The HTC team participated on the college’s Brooklyn Park campus. HTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and two certificates in Cyber Defense.

“This was a great opportunity for our students to demonstrate their IT skills,” said Dr. Ryan Brovold,” IT faculty, HTC. “During the competition, students learned how to detect and react to cyber-attacks in real-life scenarios.”

In a controlled virtual environment, competitors assume administrative and protective duties for an existing “commercial” network – typically a small company with 50+ users, 7 to 10 servers, and common Internet services such as a web server, mail server, and e-commerce site. Each team begins the competition with an identical set of hardware and software and is scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, maintain availability of existing services such as mail servers and web servers, respond to business requests such as the addition or removal of additional services, and balance security needs against business needs.

Throughout the event, an automated scoring engine is used to verify the functionality and availability of each team’s services on a periodic basis and traffic generators continuously feed simulated user traffic into the competition network. A volunteer Red Team (Ethical Hackers) provides the “external threat” of all Internet-based services which allows the teams to match their defensive skills against live opponents (hackers).

Congratulations to all of the teams and students who participated.