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NDSU student places in top 50 in national cybersecurity competition

NDSU computer science junior Jack Hance took 42nd place out of more than 5,000 students nationwide in the Fall 2019 National Cyber League competition. In addition to his overall top 50 place, Hance took 30th place in Wireless Access Exploitation and 51st place in Web Application Exploitation.

Hance was one of 10 NDSU students who competed.

The National Cyber League, known as NCL, was founded in 2011 to provide methods for cybersecurity professionals. The league was founded by the Cyber Security Privacy and Research Institute, Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance, CyberWatch West, Mid-Pacific Information and Communication Technologies Center and National CyberWatch Center.

According to, there are more than 300,000 open cybersecurity positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that cybersecurity analysts earn $98,350, on average.

NDSU students are preparing for future employment through their participation in cybersecurity competitions like NCL, which prepares students for testing systems for vulnerabilities before nefarious individuals can exploit them, government service and other careers.

“Individuals with exemplary skills in cybersecurity, like Jack, are in extremely high demand,” said NDSU assistant professor Jeremy Straub, who mentors the National Cyber League Team. Straub is also the associate director of the NDSU Institute for Cybersecurity Education and Research. “The National Cyber League competition is an exciting way for students to learn and enhance their cybersecurity skills and demonstrate them to potential employers.”

As part of the competition, the students demonstrate their skills in open source intelligence, cryptography, scanning, password cracking, log analysis, network traffic analysis, wireless access and web application exploitation and enumeration and exploitation. To reach coveted top 50 status, Hance excelled in all of these areas. In the areas of open source intelligence, cryptography and wireless access exploitation, he received all of the possible points.

“This was my third try at the NCL individual competition, and I definitely think it was the most fun I have had so far,” said Hance. “NCL is always adding new challenges to match the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, so it gives me practice to stay on my toes just like in real life cyber-attack and defense. I always find ways to use what I have learned in competition, and I'm sure this last one won't be any different.”

NDSU students have competed in NCL since 2017. This year, NDSU students also participated in the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition and MITRE Capture the Flag competition.

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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 30, 2021 4:02:14 PM
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