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Lucas shows ‘fighting spirit’ at C2C cyber competition

August 3, 2017

Chase LucasA fighting spirit is an important characteristic for a cyber security defender.

Dakota State University student Chase Lucas proved he has this trait by winning the “Fighting Spirit” award at the Cambridge 2 Cambridge (C2C) international cyber competition held last month in England.

The government- and industry-backed competition is the brainchild of the University of Cambridge in the U.K., and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), located in Cambridge, Mass.

“Cyber security is one of the most important professions for any digitally enabled country,” said Chris Ensor, deputy director of cyber skills and growth at National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) in the United Kingdom. NCSC is a sponsor of C2C. “We need the brightest and the best talent to stay ahead of rapidly evolving global cyber threats.”

Lucas was one of 111 of those brightest and best future cyber defenders, who came from 24 U.S. and U.K.  universities to take part in the C2C competition at the University of Cambridge July 24-26. The Fighting Spirit award was presented to a competitor who showed outstanding enthusiasm for being a part of the cyber security event, Lucas said.

“The relevance of cyber security has never been greater,” said Dr. Howard Shrobe, principal research scientist at CSAIL, and co-founder of C2C. “Only by giving these talented students the tools needed to enter the industry will we be able to tackle the growing threat from cyber criminals and terrorists.” A 2017 article in Britain’s “The Telegraph” estimated the critical cyber security skills gap will increase to a global shortfall of 1.8 million by 2022.

“C2C gives these bright young people the opportunity to implement the skills and theory they have been taught at university in a realistic environment, while learning new ones in the process,” said Professor Frank Stajano, head of the Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research at the University of Cambridge. He is also a co-founder of Cambridge2Cambridge.

C2C pitted teams of the world’s future cyber defenders against each other in a three-day, life-like battle against a rogue state which was developing weapons of mass destruction. Lucas and his team members took first place in the ENIGMA (cryptography) challenge, second place in the LEIDOS competition, second place in the Core Wars (programming challenge), and joint third place in the Palo Alto Networks challenge.

“I hope (the C2C students’) achievements inspire hundreds of thousands of secondary school students to take up this challenging and intellectually stimulating path when they go to university,” said Stajano. “We are growing a new generation of skilled cyber security experts who will protect the digital society of tomorrow.”

This cyber security competition also fosters collaboration and teamwork among students from these universities, promoting greater cyber security collaboration between the U.K. and U.S. Lucas’s team included three British students and a doctoral student from Carnegie Mellon University. “We all came from different countries, and had different social origins, but none of that mattered once we actually competed,” Lucas said. “We all shared the same drive and enthusiasm for not only the competition, but for our future endeavors.”

Technically, Lucas noted some differences in education and experience between the team members, “but the organizers did a good job making sure all the teams were as well-balanced as possible,” he said, and the team members benefited from these differences. “I enjoyed having the opportunity to both learn from my teammates, as well as sharing some of my skills and experiences with them,” Lucas said.

Lucas added that he is looking forward to working with these new colleagues at future C2C competitions, and with his DSU cyber competition teammates at events during the upcoming school year. Lucas, a native of Ocala, Florida, will be a junior this fall at Dakota State, majoring in cyber operations and network and security administration.