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US Cyber team takes 3rd at international competition

June 17, 2022

The U.S. Cyber Team – which features three Dakota State University Trojans – won third place in the first-ever International Cybersecurity Challenge.

International CyberSecurity Challenge

The 1st International Cybersecurity Challenge, June 14-17, is a blended cybersecurity-meets-e-sports program. The two-day challenge, held in Athens’ Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, tested athletes in cyber categories including forensics, cryptography, reverse engineering, and attack & defense.

The U.S. team is comprised of 20 athletes, ages 18-26, picked from a national application pool of 688. For the last year, they’ve represented the United States as the cyber-version of Olympic athletes. 

Of the 20 selected, three are from Dakota State University: alumni Logan Stratton and Josh Klosterman, along with rising senior Austen King. Stratton and Klosterman competed as starters on the U.S. Team, while King traveled as a reserve player. Student Eric Leslie also qualified, but was unable to participate in the competition due to work conflicts.

Stratton talked about the challenging week, “Seeing where we stack up against top talent from around the world has been eye-opening. The challenges, especially in the Capture the Flag competition, were pretty grueling. You show up. You work your tail off. You do the best you can. It’s an elite level of competition.”

He spoke about his Trojan teammates: “We’re very proud to represent the United States. We’ve joked that DSU is slowly taking over the world.”

Seven teams competed in the first-ever challenge: U.S. Cyber Team, Europe, Asia, Canada, Africa, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), LATAM (Latin America and South America).

The first day of the event was the Jeopardy Challenge, in which teams solved coded puzzles to gain points as they earn flags. Team Europe, represented by eight countries, placed first. The second day of the event was Attack & Defense, in which teams maintained a set of web services while hacking other teams to take their services down. Team Asia, also represented by 11 countries, placed first.

Head coach Dr. TJ O’Conner, who served 20 years as an Army Officer, praised the U.S. team’s work ethic and preparation for the competition.

“We benefitted from a deeply collaborative effort to attack and defend under pressure. What makes me most proud is that we did it as a team.”

He added, “They performed heroically throughout the competition and delivered outstanding results. They proved their right to compete on the world stage.”

The International Cybersecurity Challenge is hosted by the ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity). Team Asia won second place overall and Team Europe was the overall champion.

The U.S. Cyber Team is sponsored by Katzcy, a social impact company specializing in marketing strategy for tech and cybersecurity firms. This completes Season I of the competition; events for ICC Season II are in progress.

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