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A Student-Hacker Showdown at the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

Article Description

Students faced off against experienced hackers at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. The students' goal: lock down unfamiliar systems and secure their networks. The hackers' goal: to own the students' networks and steal important data. Seth Fogie witnessed this real-world competition and reports on its unexpected twists, turns, and even drama.

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The Hacker Mentality

As I sat in with the Red Team, I got to watch how each worked and what tools/methods were used. The four members really represented a wide range of skills and personalities. On the one side was the professional information assurance who really knew the technology and was able to assist with various tasks that led to loss of confidentiality. Another member was very prepared with a rack server that had six CPUs. His system was loaded with programs like Canvas, metasploit, and other automated penetration testing tools. Next was a member who blended the casual professional with rule bending hacker. He proved to be a valuable asset and was the one who coded up the script that performed the SQL denial of service attack. The final member was the pony tail/ear-ring type that really stretched the rules and thought nothing of it. As a career penetration tester, his skills were valuable for the team as well. The point is, each member took a different approach and used different tools to get the job done. They used everything from OS X to Linux and even Windows, not to mention intimidation, ladders, and glow sticks (more on that in the next section).