CSM Cyberhawks Take First Place at Statewide Competition

The CSM Cyberhawks compete at the Maryland Community College Cyber Competition held April 7 at the Montgomery Community College Germantown Campus

More Than 20 Teams from 10 Community Colleges Participate in Inaugural Event

The College of Southern Maryland Cyberhawks won first place honors at the Maryland Community College Cyber Competition held April 7 at the Montgomery Community College Germantown Campus. The Cyberhawks competed against more than 20 teams from 10 different community colleges from across the state at the inaugural event.

“This was all due to the hard work of those Cybersecurity Club members,” said Associate Professor James Graves, one of the team’s sponsors. “They prepared for their first competition and really followed through. I’m very proud of what they have accomplished and look forward to seeing their full potential.”

The Cyberhawks, represented by CSM students Caleb Craft of Waldorf, Cody Hight of King George, Virginia, and Don Price of Charlotte Hall, held a consistent lead during the first half of the two-hour competition. But in the last 40 minutes a team from Frederick Community College began to challenge CSM for first place. The Cyberhawks battled back, regaining the lead in just the last 18 seconds of the competition. The Cyberhawks left the challenge as champions, earning 3,466 points overall.

The competition tested the students’ ability to solve cyber puzzles in five categories: computer forensics, cryptography, binary coding, networking communications and a miscellaneous mystery topic.

Hight credited the Cyberhawk’s communication and teamwork skills for the win. “The few times I looked up from our screens it appeared as if everyone was doing their own challenges individually, whereas if one of us got stuck on something we asked one of the others if they knew something about it, and sometimes we traded problems,” he said. “Coming out in first place was significantly surprising to me. Being my first competition, I was only expecting to learn how the competitions work and have fun.”

“This was our first CTF competition,” Craft said. “However, we have been competing in several national and global competitions that take place online. We plan on participating in future competitions and I hope we can continue to improve our knowledge and skills.”

As the competition’s champions, the Cyberhawks won a Hak5 kit. Hight explained that the kit “contains a USB Rubber Ducky, a WiFi Pineapple Nano and a LAN Turtle. The WiFi Pineapple does not look like a pineapple, but is a personal router of sorts, in the way that it can be used as a man-in-the-middle, and using this type of attack, one can steal credentials to whatever site the victim visits.”

The Maryland Community College Cyber Competition was sponsored by Parsons Cyber.

For information about CSM’s cybersecurity program, visit http://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/cyber-center/.