Computer Science, Cyber Engineering programs hold Cyber Storm 2020
Cyber Storm, a daylong hackfest designed and implemented by the Computer Science and Cyber Engineering programs at the University, has been held every year since 2010. During the event, student teams compete to see who can earn the most points by hacking into other teams’ networks while defending their own, giving them essential experience in the cybersecurity field.
Previous Cyber Storms have been hosted on campus with large crowds in attendance. Due to the social distancing guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, this year’s event was closed to the public, and the challenges were delivered electronically to teams that were spread out among multiple sites.
After in-class courses, including the two classes that culminate in Cyber Storm, were moved online, professors who organize the event and the teams that participate got creative in developing their strategies.
The 12 student teams (Chimera, Griffin, Hydra, Jabberwock, Kraken, Minotaur, Phoenix, Siren, Sphinx, Unicorn, Werewolf and Wyvern) developed strategies to hack their opponents’ networks and defend their own and complete challenges using Discord servers, while classes met via Zoom software.
On the day of the event, Dr. Jean Gourd, Cyber Storm founder and program chair and associate professor of computer science, Dr. Ankunda Kiremire, lecturer of computer science, and Dr. Andrey Timofeyev, lecturer of computer science, issued the challenges electronically from the Integrated Engineering and Science Building.
Opportunities for teams to score points included cryptography and steganography puzzles, wireless network access problems, scavenger hunts, “King of the Hill” challenges, “Capture the Flag” challenges, and hacking and defending black boxes with unknown vulnerabilities.
Despite the unique challenges that the event posed in 2020, students were able to get industry exposure and experience that will make them better situated to earn internships and jobs.
“Through Cyber Storm, I was able to get into contact with many professionals,” Jack Foil, cyber engineering junior and 2020 Cyber Storm participant, said. “Also, through Cyber Storm, I was able to get real-life experience in cyber security, which opened up many job opportunities.
“I expected to be somewhat overwhelmed and stressed out. However, I was fully prepared for the class because of prior Computer Science classes.”
The Minotaur, Sphinx and Wyvern teams earned the first, second, and third place awards, respectively.