Take a look at one DeVry University student’s perspective on participating on the third-place team in the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (WRCCDC).

DeVry Students Tackle Cyber Defense and Security Issues

By DeVry University

Each second, 18 people fall victim to cyber-security attacks. That’s roughly 1.5 million attacks daily and 556 million attacks annually.[1] To help combat these threats, the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) was created for students at higher education institutions to assess their understanding of computer security.[2] Brian Vianzon, a student at DeVry University campus in Pomona, Calif., offers his perspective after participating in the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (WRCCDC).

Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge cyber defense faces today?

A: Cyber Defense is a very dynamic environment. To stay current with best practices and latest threats, I constantly reference resources such as nixCraft, US-CERT, and ETOpen Ruleset.


Q: Which DeVry program are you currently pursuing and what is your career goal?

A: I am pursuing a B.S. in Technical Management and applying the fundamentals of my CIS coursework at my current position (System Administrator at iinside, a WirelessWERX company). Looking ahead, I will pursue a Cyber Security Specialist career.


Q: What sparked your interest in cyber security and cyber defense?

A: I was always fascinated with system/network security; my first IT job was in technical support for a third party ISP.  After exploring a few different career paths, I found myself back in IT given my hobby and passion for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).  Securing FOSS is important, as the backbone of the Internet relies on FOSS for Operating Systems, to DNS and Web Servers. 


Q: What skill sets do you think are needed to work successfully in cyber defense? How has DeVry helped you hone these skills?

A: The most important skill in Cyber Defense is attention to detail. Knowing normal from evil in an operating system lies in the details. DeVry helped hone these skills by taking the fundamentals learned in class and applying them outside the classroom using enterprise-grade networks and systems. I’d like the thank Professor Michael Kalka for his support of the 2012 and 2013 Teams, Professor Robert Bunge for security resources and student advocacy of CCDC, and the constant support from Dean Moe Saouli.


Q. How does a student preparing for a career in cyber security stay one step ahead of the game?

A. Best security practices require keeping current and reacting to emerging threats. Staying one step ahead requires learning the mechanics in exposing exploits through penetration testing.


Q: What tools and resources did your team leverage to develop your winning strategy?

A: Our team of five was assembled a week before the qualifier so we had less time to practice in advance of the competition. For this reason, we had a simple game plan: leverage our strengths. Our fine-tuned skills guided us to a winning strategy that worked well.

We also learned from other teams. From the Red Team, I learned that anytime two or more programming languages or platforms combine, there will likely be a security flaw. From the Black Team, we saw how enumerating all details of the systems and network is the core of basic security. In other words, you need to know what you have and what it should look like in its normal state.


Q: In collaborating with your team, what ideas rose to the top and how did you settle on one?

A: There was one major implementation that alleviated the handicap of only five teammates: a secure network. Fortunately, my teammate Lee Howder took the lead for the core network security and it paid dividends.


Q. What unique lessons have you learned from participating in the competition for three years?

A. Never make assumptions and be prepared for anything.  The competition is very challenging, but the real world won’t be as forgiving, so it’s better to learn from mistakes in the competition environment for better preparation in enterprise/production environments.


Q. What is your proudest moment from the competition?

A. After three years of competing, my proudest moment was making it to the podium alongside competitors from University of California, Berkley and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Coming in third place was a huge accomplishment, especially with a team of five. It came down to a simple game plan, our strengths and securing the network first. It was a great moment.

In today’s internet-centric society, cyber-security issues pose a threat to everyone. If you are interested in pursuing a career to help people keep their personal information safe, request information about a degree program in computer information systems at DeVry University.