By Tawseef Ali
Texas A&M-San Antonio’s Cyber Security Athenaeum student organization did not earn top rank at the March 9 and 10 Southwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition but members will be competing in the University of California, Santa Barbara’s International Capture the Flag (iCTF) competition on March 22.
The 2013 Southwest Regional CCDC, hosted by A&M-San Antonio, brought nine universities together. Oklahoma State University attained first place in the competition, and has advanced to the national finals on April 19 to 21, in San Antonio.
Southern Methodist University was awarded second place and Texas A&M-College Station was awarded third place, however exact scores were not disclosed. Some specific tactics also remained discreet due to the contribution of active U.S. Armed Forces personnel.
Commander A. Alex Gonzalez, U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR)-NetOps Support Team, served as one of the judges for the competition. He said he was impressed with the students and the host university. He believes that valuable education is being provided at A&M-San Antonio and the program should be given space to grow.
“(I am) amazed by the level of talent,” Gonzalez said.
Zachary Havins, business administration in computer information systems senior
and competition team leader said his “blue team,” performed well, and were close to obtaining a place in the top three rankings. He said last minute changes may have disrupted the team’s preparation. Their components, the “red team” consisted professional hackers of the 24th Air Force-Cyberspace operations group. Their identities were not disclosed.
“(We) didn’t expect the red team to be as good as they were,” Havins said.
A&M-San Antonio was the only local team to qualify for the regional finals. Other teams participating were: Oklahoma State University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M-College Station, Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, University of North Texas, University of Texas-Austin and the University of Tulsa.
Mark Huson, assistant professor of computer information systems, said A&M-San Antonio’s decision to host the competition increased the visibility of the school to potential sponsors and employers, as well as establish credibility and display a level of maturity for the program.