DSU student to compete in international cyber competition

Academics, College of Computing, Admissions

Chase LucasOne Dakota State University (DSU) student is taking cyber competition to the international level.

Chase Lucas, a junior at DSU, will compete in the Cambridge 2 Cambridge Cybersecurity Challenge (C2C) in England July 24-26. The competition will be held at Trinity College on the University of Cambridge campus.

C2C was launched in 2015 as an opportunity for students at two Cambridge schools – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., and the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, U.K.– to explore creative ways to combat global cyber attacks.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) hosted the inaugural competition in the spring of 2016, exclusively for students from MIT and Cambridge. The 2017 C2C includes over 100 students from 12 U.S. and 12 U.K. universities.

Lucas, a native of Ocala, Florida, heard about the opportunity through a friend who had competed in 2016. After a little research on C2C, “I signed up right away,” he said. He participated in the online qualifying round, which featured a variety of cyber-security challenges such as binary exploitation, web app security, cryptography and forensics. He and other high-performing students were then selected to participate in the July competition in England.

Lucas and the other students will be arranged in blended teams for the hackathon-style, Capture the Flag (CTF) competition at C2C, which will include graduated sets of exercises in binary exploitation, web security, reverse engineering, cryptography and forensics.

“C2C will give me the opportunity to gain real-world experience, and exercise the knowledge I’ve learned [as a cyber operations and network and security administration double major at DSU]” Lucas stated. Dakota State has provided him with “an unparalleled learning environment,” and praised the “outstanding professors who are personally invested in my success.” These factors will combine to help him excel in the competition, he said.

Another benefit of participating in the competition is the opportunity to network with academic cyber security leaders such as Dr. Frank Stajano, University of Cambridge, and Dr. Howard Shrobe, CSAIL. The agenda includes keynote speakers from the namesake universities, and seminars featuring industry professionals from C2C sponsors LEIDOS (an American defense company) and NCC Group (a U.K. information assurance firm).

“There is an impressive list of speakers throughout the event and I look forward to each and every one of them, but am especially interested in hearing about ‘Securing the Future Digital Society’ by Sir Professor John McCanny from Queen’s University Belfast, and the session on real-world penetration testing (pentesting) by Jerome Smith of the NCC Group,” Lucas said.

He and the other students will also experience some English culture through events such as punting on the River Cam (a punt is flat-bottomed boat, famous at Cambridge University), and the formal awards ceremony dinner at the close of the competition. Cyber security, however, is the main focus.

“The C2C experience as a whole will give me a new insight on my future career in cyber security,” Lucas said. He will not, however, be the only DSU student to benefit from the experience. “I hope to bring back a lot of new knowledge and skills I learn from other students, as well as industry professionals.” With those, “I look forward to having the opportunity to excite other DSU students, and interest them in competing in next year’s C2C competition,” Lucas added.

The 2017 C2C event can be tracked through updates on the DSU social media sites, as well as the C2C social media channels, using the hashtag #C2Ccyber. Twenty thousand pounds (about $26,000 U.S. dollars) in prizes will be awarded, for high team scores and high individual scores.