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AU News

Anderson Team Consistently Excels in National Cyber League Competition

December 13, 2021
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A team of cybersecurity majors went up against more than 900 teams across the nation and placed in the top 17 percent. Pictured is root@au coach Brandon Grech teaching students.

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The late Randy Pausch, a renowned computer science professor, once said, “Brick walls give us a chance to show us how badly we want something.”

A team of students from the Anderson University Center for Cybersecurity takes that quote to heart as they compete against cybersecurity majors from across the nation.

And it’s paid off. This fall, the root@au team placed in the top 17 percent in the U.S.

Out of 920 teams, the Anderson team, coached by Brandon Grech, instructor of cybersecurity, placed number 157 in the NCL (National Cyber League) fall competition, building on an impressive top ranking they earned this past spring.

The team was composed of Nathan Rackley, Annie Nastasi, Hyeokjin (David) Oh, Zachary Seiter, Franklin George, Nicholas Fowler, Sofia Deambrosi and alternate Sean St. Clair.

Grech was impressed by the effort each student put into preparing for CTF (Capture the Flag) competitions.

“Each student has put in the academic rigor required for cybersecurity classes such as Security with Linux, Cryptography, Network Security and Digital Forensics, to name a few, “Grech said. “These students met as a team two or three times a week during each semester to work on developing their skills in Anderson University’s  Cybersecurity Lab and Range. Furthermore, these students have put in countless hours in a custom, self-hosted, persistent Anderson University CTF that helps the students develop their individual cybersecurity skills on-demand, on their own time.”

Grech praised his team of students for vigorously pursuing a team effort, fully utilizing the resources provided to them and for developing an intrinsic desire to prepare fully to compete strongly, and ultimately excel one day in the workforce. 

Dr. Kenneth Knapp, director of the Anderson University Center for Cybersecurity, said “By participating in cyber competitions like the NCL, students are gaining valuable experience for the cybersecurity workforce. Moreover, these CTFs are résumé-worthy events. By ranking in the top 17 percent of teams, AU students gain the confidence to continue with other CTFs which helps them become more attractive in the cyber job market.”

Knapp added that such competitions give students practical cybersecurity challenges they will likely face in the workforce, which include identifying hackers from forensic data, pentesting (penetration testing) and auditing vulnerable websites, recovering from ransomware attacks and other cybersecurity activities.

See the results of the fall 2021 ranked list from the NCL competition; click the Team tab.

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