Oct. 13, 2021

NDSU to field largest ever National Cyber League team


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NDSU is a recognized leader in the National Cyber League. The university took 13th place nationally, out of hundreds of participating U.S. colleges and universities, in the spring 2021 NCL Cyber Power Rankings.

This semester, NDSU will field over 40 participants – more than double the university’s highest level of participation in previous semesters.  With this participation level, NDSU will be one of the largest, if not the largest, participating institutions in the Midwest, based on schools’ historical participation levels.

National Cyber League provides students with an enjoyable and exciting competition environment in which to learn and demonstrate their cybersecurity skills. Participants perform real world-relevant tasks as part of the competition’s challenges which correspond to tasks performed in cybersecurity industry job roles.

“The competition provides an excellent opportunity for students to show prospective employers their skills,” said Jeremy Straub, assistant professor of computer science, who has coached NDSU’s participating students since NDSU started participating in 2017. “It shows employers anywhere in the country that NDSU students are among the nation’s best prepared for real cybersecurity jobs.”

The National Cyber League competition has four parts. First, there is a ‘gymnasium’ where students can practice for the competition and learn skills using the provided solution and tool use walkthroughs. Second, students participate in a qualifying competition. Next, there is an individual competition where students compete directly with thousands of other college students nationwide. Finally, there is the team competition where students get to work on challenges in small groups and compete against other teams across the country. The events are scheduled throughout the semester.

The competition challenges students in 10 areas: open source intelligence, cryptography, cracking passwords, analyzing logs, analyzing network traffic, wireless access, forensics, scanning, exploiting web applications and enumeration/exploitation.  Students earn points and are ranked in each category. Top students must demonstrate their skills in all competition areas.

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