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CHIPS Articles: SSC Atlantic Cybersecurity Competition Challenges

SSC Atlantic Cybersecurity Competition Challenges
By SSC Atlantic Public Affairs - April 20, 2018
CHARLESTON, S.C. — The sixth annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC), hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) was held April 14-15 at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The goal of PCDC is to energize South Carolina high school and collegiate students to focus on the development of networking and cybersecurity skills through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). During the competitions, students from each school formed “blue teams” that operated and secured the network of a small shipping company. The teams were challenged to properly configure/reconfigure an IT network, add new services, and respond to additional requirements — all while defending against “red team” hackers attempting to disrupt their network.

“This is a unique environment for students to be able to test their knowledge in networking and cybersecurity. They are participating in real-life scenarios to keep a business’s infrastructure secure,” said Jeff Sweeney, SSC Atlantic information systems security operations supervisor.

Over 300 dedicated high school and collegiate students gave up their weekend, with 100-plus volunteers from SSC Atlantic, AFCEA, corporate partners and Navy Reserve participating in the weekend competition.

High school students from around South Carolina competed Saturday. First place winners were from Palmetto Scholars Academy. Porter Gaud High School earned second, and third was taken by The Home School Network. The high school competition is open to all schools in South Carolina but only eight teams can compete. The top three teams from the previous year are invited back, while the remaining five positions qualify through the state round of the CyberPatriot Competition. The Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, Stratford, Wando, South Aiken and Ashley Ridge also competed.

The collegiate competition held Sunday was open to colleges and universities in South Carolina. Three of the eight slots are designated for the top three teams of the previous year. The remaining five teams must qualify through the Southeast Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

Clemson University took first place, College of Charleston second and University of South Carolina third. ECPI University, The Citadel, Trident Technical College, South Carolina State and Charleston Southern University also competed in the event.

Also included on Saturday was the Palmetto Digital Forensics Competition which included over 60 students in both high school and collegiate divisions. Teams of three students each were challenged to solve as many forensics scenarios as possible to collect points.

An initiative called Cyber-In-The Middle provided a window into the PCDC competition for middle school students. About 90 local middle school students were assigned to either gold, blue or red teams. Curriculum also included mini-expos, computer deconstruction and reconstruction, and a cyber introduction.

“The big picture is that we’re trying to develop our future cybersecurity workforce,” said Sweeney, the competition director. “There’s a great need for people in this field and it’s important to get more of our young people involved.”

The cyber defense competition is part of a growing movement to develop technical skills and interest in the area of networking and cybersecurity in preparation for exciting careers in STEM.

“This is the sixth year of PCDC and it has been neat to see the pipeline of students who have participated in the competition who are then hired by either us at SPAWAR or one of our local business partners,” said Sweeney.

SSC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C4ISR), cyber and information technology (IT) capabilities.

For more information visit http://www.public.navy.mil/spawar/Atlantic.

Charleston, S.C. (April 14, 2018) High school and college/university students from around South Carolina participate in the 3rd annual Palmetto Digital Forensics Competition presented by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic. The event was held at Trident Technical College as part of the 2018 Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC). During the event students were presented with and had to solve a variety of digital forensic scenarios. SSC Atlantic develops, acquires and provides life cycle support for command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems, information technology and space capabilities. A leading-edge Navy engineering center, SSC Atlantic designs, builds, tests, fields and supports many of the finest frontline C4ISR systems in use today, and those being planned for the future.  U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released
Charleston, S.C. (April 14, 2018) High school and college/university students from around South Carolina participate in the 3rd annual Palmetto Digital Forensics Competition presented by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic. The event was held at Trident Technical College as part of the 2018 Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC). During the event students were presented with and had to solve a variety of digital forensic scenarios. SSC Atlantic develops, acquires and provides life cycle support for command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems, information technology and space capabilities. A leading-edge Navy engineering center, SSC Atlantic designs, builds, tests, fields and supports many of the finest frontline C4ISR systems in use today, and those being planned for the future. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released

 Charleston, S.C. (April 14, 2018) Students from the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics participate on one of eight “Blue Teams” in the 6th annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC) held at Trident Technical College and hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic and the South Carolina Low Country chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). The high school teams were provided with a mal-configured business network at the beginning of the competition and were challenged to properly reconfigure the network, add new services and respond to additional requirements — all while defending against a Red Team consisting of SSC Atlantic and industry volunteer “hackers” attempting to disrupt and penetrate the network. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released
Charleston, S.C. (April 14, 2018) Students from the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics participate on one of eight “Blue Teams” in the 6th annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC) held at Trident Technical College and hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic and the South Carolina Low Country chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). The high school teams were provided with a mal-configured business network at the beginning of the competition and were challenged to properly reconfigure the network, add new services and respond to additional requirements — all while defending against a Red Team consisting of SSC Atlantic and industry volunteer “hackers” attempting to disrupt and penetrate the network. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released

Charleston, S.C. (April 14, 2018) More than 70 Middle School students from Charleston area schools take part in the Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC) “Cyber in the Middle” program. This program was presented by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic to inspire interest in Cyber Security U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released
Charleston, S.C. (April 14, 2018) More than 70 Middle School students from Charleston area schools take part in the Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC) “Cyber in the Middle” program. This program was presented by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic to inspire interest in Cyber Security U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger/Released
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