UVA Retains NCCDC's Alamo Cup

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UVA Retains NCCDC's Alamo Cup


The University of Virginia  (U.Va. or UVA)'s Cyber Defense Team (CDT) prevailed over nine other finalist teams to win the 2019 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) and its coveted Alamo Cup. The championship was held in Orlando, Fl. from April 23-25 with the national competition's top 10 college and university teams. UVA's CDT led by team captain Mariah Kenny, successfully protected the network of a fictional agriculture firm specializing in cryopreservation, crop research and development, and sustainable farming. The fictional company sustained multiple attacks orchestrated by ethical hackers using the same tactics and techniques as real-world bad actors. It is the "second national title" for UVA in back-to-back years — despite last year being the first time they participated in the competition.

UVA Cyber Defense Team 2019 roaster
  • Mariah Kenny (Captain)
  • Jake Smith (Windows Admin)
  • Roman Bohuk  (Nix / Linux Admin)
  • Conner Steenrod (Firewall / Networking Admin) 
  • Jack Verrier (Nix / Linux Team)
  • Calvin Krist (Windows Team)
  • Daniel Chen (Nix / Linux) 
  • Jack McDowell (Windows Team)
  • Will Mayes  (Windows Team - served as alternates for the national competition)
  • Caroline Linkous  (Nix / Linux Team - served as alternates for the national competition)
  • Sam Spelsberg (Nix / Linux Team - served as alternates for the national competition)

According to the NCCDC's website, it was founded in 2005 by the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS) and the idea of the competition is to provide colleges and universities a "controlled, competitive environment to assess their students’ depth of understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting the corporate network infrastructure and business information systems."

More than 235 colleges and universities competed to test their cybersecurity prowess. Regional competitions comprised of multiple stages and a single-elimination round reduced the field to 10 finalists for the national championship. NCCDC was the first to test cyber defense skills in a collegiate competition modeled after real-world attack scenarios. Seeing the practical applications of cyber defense skills encourages more students to pursue cybersecurity careers.

"NCCDC's systematic, professional approach to this competition, and the use of real-world business scenarios, help attract the talent that will fill the 3.5 million cyber job vacancies we will see by 2021, according to research published by Cybersecurity Ventures," said John DeSimone, vice president of Cybersecurity and Special Missions at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. "Congratulations to University of Virginia and all NCCDC competitors. We encourage them to continue their pursuit of cybersecurity excellence."

"Everyone recognizes the need to find and train more cyber professionals," said Dwayne Williams, director of the NCCDC, CIAS/UTSA. "The NCCDC program brings academia, government, and industry together in a unique way to address that need."

In addition to University of Virginia's top finish, University of Central Florida placed second, and Rochester Institute of Technology placed third. The 10 schools that competed at the championship include:
  • Baldwin Wallace University, Midwest Regional Winner
  • Rochester Institute of Technology, Northeast Regional Winner
  • Stanford University, Western Regional Winner
  • University of Alaska, Anchorage, At-Large Regional Winner
  • University of Tulsa, Southwest Regional Winner
  • The University of Washington, Seattle, Pacific Rim Regional Winner
  • Utah Valley University, Rocky Mountain Regional Winner
  • Dakota State University, North Central Regional Winner
  • University of Virginia, Mid-Atlantic Regional Winner
  • University of Central Florida, Southeast Regional Winner
Sponsors of NCCDC include government agencies, colleges, and commercial companies. Raytheon, in particular, will bring the winning team to Washington, D.C., to some of the nation's top research and national cybersecurity sites.

With reporting by UVA Newsroom and Raytheon News