Cal Poly Pomona Cyber Collaborative

Cyber Competitions

Cal Poly Pomona student cyber teams compete against universities across the world and consistently place in the top ranks, most recently placing No. 1 internationally. Students use and learn technical and professional skills needed in the cyber industry.

Collegiate PenTesting Competition

Cal Poly Pomona’s student Penetraton Testing team placed No. 1 in the world in 2022, beating university teams from North America, Europe and the Middle East, with Stanford University placing second and Tennessee Technological University placing third.

In the competition, undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity teams were “hired” to serve as what are called pentesters for a fictitious candy and croissant factory, tasked with using their hacking skills to evaluate the business’s weaknesses and provide solutions to prevent future breaches.

The Cal Poly Pomona team hacked into business process and customer experience systems, including the industrial control systems in the distribution plants, customer rewards program, and ecommerce and payment processing applications. After exposing the system’s vulnerabilities, they proposed mitigating measures and presented their findings to judges and sponsors, winning top scores for technical competency, business acumen and professional communication.

Eberhardt, team co-captain, said the university’s experiential and hands-on learning approach was another major factor leading to the team’s success and his career. He has already been hired as an incident response consultant at CrowdStrike.

“Making sure we are very effective in business skills, to make us stand out to give overall business value differentiated Cal Poly Pomona from the other teams,” Eberhardt said. “A lot of our success comes from always pushing each other to get better and better.”

Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

Undergraduate students take on administrative and protective work responsibilities in a controlled, competitive environment for a small company with common internet services including a web server, mail server and e-commerce webpage. Teams detect and respond to outside threats, maintain availability of existing services, respond to business requests including the addition or removal of services, and balance security needs against business needs.

“That confrontation with the hackers and an online push and pull of successfully locking them out at certain points is what gets my blood pumping,” Silas Shen, a computer information systems sophomore, said. “Figuring out what exactly happened and using your knowledge to confidently say, ‘This is how they got in and this is how we’re going to stop it so they can’t get in,' – that’s another fun part.”

National Cyber League

A biannual cyber competition, Cal Poly Pomona students use their defensive and offensive cybersecurity skills to compete against top universities across the United States. They perform a variety of real-work functions, including identifying hackers from forensic data, breaking into vulnerable websites and recovering from ransomware attacks. Companies and agencies such as Uber, Amazon and the National Security Agency, scout for talent during the competitions. Cal Poly Pomona's cyber team placed in the top 10 across the nation in 2018.