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Cyber Defense Competition

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

New trends in ECE education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.386.1 - 11.386.18



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Paper Authors


Douglas Jacobson Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Doug Jacobson
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011

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Nate Evans Iowa State University

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Nate Evans
Computer Engineering Student
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Cyber Defense Competition Abstract

The world today is becoming more and more reliant on the use of information technology. Hence the world is becoming potentially more vulnerable to the loss of that technology. The lack of designed-in security and wide dissemination of hacker tools makes the prospect of asymmetrical threats very likely. To increase awareness and understanding of these and other security issues the Information Assurance Student Group and Iowa State University’s Information Assurance Center created Cyber- Defense Competition (CDC). The Information Assurance Student Group organizes the competition and develops the scenario. The competition is held at a cyber security research facility at the university and the faculty members oversee the competition and provide the judging. The competition has been designed as a defense and survivability exercise where the participants need to minimize the risk of a security breech while ensuring necessary operational services are maintained. The competition is open to all students to promote a multidisciplinary approach since the information infrastructure is a multidisciplinary space. Teams participating in the exercise develop and implement security plans that safeguard their users and secure their networks. The students have several weeks to design and implement their defenses based on a scenario. The student teams (blue team) must then defend their network for 18 hours against a team of security professionals (red team). The students maintain a usable network and provide services to a group of users (green team). The green team provides a way to get others involved in the competition even if they are not computer experts. The first competition was held in the spring of 2005 and in the fall of 2005 the second competition was held. The spring of 2006 a regional competition will be held and student teams from other universities will be invited to participate. The competition consists of 12 teams of 3-4 students each. This paper discusses the planning and operation of the competition and the network environment used to ensure the attackers and students were isolated from the real internet. Feedback from the attackers and the students are presented along with lessons learned.


Iowa State University has a robust program in computer security and offers a masters degree in information assurance. The university offered its first security course in 1995 and created a course on information warfare in 19961. In addition to formal course work and faculty research projects we saw a need to develop opportunities to allow students to become involved in computer security. This led to the development of the Information Assurance Student Group which provides students an opportunity to meet and discuss security issues. The group also provides hands-on experiences for students where they learn how to secure wireless networks, install firewalls, and work with other tools. The students were looking for opportunities to try different security methods and to get experience with real attacks.

In February 2004 the National Science Foundation sponsored the Cyber Security Exercise Workshop2 in San Antonio Texas. This workshop helped provide some guidelines for running Cyber Defense Competitions. The student group was enthusiastic about holding a competition at Iowa State University. They agreed to help plan the event and organize the student involvement.

Jacobson, D., & Evans, N. (2006, June), Cyber Defense Competition Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1159

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