Security and Resilience (Cyber and Physical)

DOE hosts third annual cyber defense competition

The U.S. Department of Energy recently hosted its third annual cyber defense competition (CDC) at the Argonne, Pacific Northwest and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.

Held across these labs simultaneously, 25 teams of university students fought to defend their cyber networks from simulated attacks launched by experts in the cyber field.

Devon Streit, the DOE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration announced that Lewis University bested the other teams, winning the 2018 CDC.

The CDC is sponsored by DOE’s Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration and brings students in computer science and engineering together in a competitive training simulation where student teams first build a complex network infrastructure, and then work to defend it against cyberattacks launched by industry professionals. Each student team consisted of up to 6 students, ranging from freshmen to Ph.D. candidates.

The CDC event matches mission-critical science with real-world training and education in an area that is a particular strength for national labs.

The American Public Power Association was a sponsor of this year’s competition. “With cybersecurity threats growing and ever changing, it is vital that the country cultivate the next generation of cybersecurity experts, and that is a key purpose of the competition,” said Nathan Mitchell, Senior Director of Electric Reliability Standards and Security at the Association.

When asked what the team members wanted to do after graduation, all of them expressed interest in pursuing careers in cybersecurity, whether pursuing an advanced degree in the field, or working in cyber research at one of the national labs. “And with unfilled cybersecurity careers estimated to top 1.5 million by 2019, it is evident that the industry is waiting for them,” the DOE said in an April 10 news release.

“Through cyber defense competitions like CDC, DOE works to increase hands-on cyber education, increase awareness of critical infrastructure security issues, and train the next generation of cybersecurity experts,” the DOE said.

Additional details about the CDC, including a list of regional winners, are available here.