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NDSU takes fifth at national cybersecurity competition

Photo of Jeremy Straub

Jeremy Straub

NDSU finished fifth at the national MITRE STEM “capture the flag” cybersecurity competition recently held online.

Computer science majors Lucas Miller, Michael Gibbons, Chris Bernard and Brett Knecht, and computer engineering major Isaac Burton combined to beat about 300 college teams nationwide during the 24-hour long competition. 

“Graduates with skills in cybersecurity are in extremely high demand,” said NDSU assistant professor Jeremy Straub, who mentors the MITRE STEM capture the flag team. “The MITRE STEM ‘capture the flag’ competition is an exciting way for students to learn and enhance their cybersecurity skills and demonstrate them to potential employers.”

The competition was created to test how well teams work under stress with real-world challenging problems in a limited amount of time. Similar to other cybersecurity competitions, this one provides students with the technical skills and training to mentally handle the amount of stresses that come with defending an organization, or sometimes a nation. Students demonstrated their cybersecurity skills in multiple areas, including Linux attacks, scanning, binary cracking, audio file scans, wireless access and web application exploitation and enumeration. 

“The questions were a lot more open-ended and it was really cool to try and find what the answer could be,” Miller said. “The competition was a really cool experience because we were all motivated to stay up the whole 24 hours. I think it was a unique experience and a great way to learn how computers work in a deeper way.”

The competition provides students with real world problems, allowing the students to gain more knowledge on the complications faced today in cybersecurity.

“I really liked the atmosphere,” Gibbons said. “I could tell the ‘capture the flag’ competition put a lot of effort into making the challenges interesting and unique while still being difficult to solve.”

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