Cyberdefense Team Set For Weekend Competition


Eight of the top undergraduate cybersecurity teams in the country will spar on the virtual battlefield this weekend in the winner-take-all 2016 Raytheon Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

Hosted by Cal Poly Pomona at the Pomona Fairplex, the WRCCDC format tasks teams of eight with taking over a company’s network that just fired its entire technology staff while fending off attacks from industry professionals.

Data breaches result in point deductions and regular status updates must be presented to a board of directors as non-technical as possible. Sponsors like Workday, Facebook and Bank of America allot months of preparation time to members of their own IT staff volunteering to judge or attack.

“This is the premier collegiate competition,” computer information systems professor and Cal Poly Pomona coach Ronald Pike says. “It’s the only competition that has a playoff style where there is a national champion crowned and you can really say you’re the best of the best.”

Teams had to accumulate enough points through a series of online qualifiers to receive an invite to this weekend's event. Other notable universities still alive in the west include Stanford, UC Berkley, UC Riverside and CSU Northridge.

WRCCDC is the first time most competitors will meet face-to-face. Materials prepared beforehand are banned and groups arrive clueless to the type of business they’ll become IT administrators of or the gauntlet of challenges that await.

The Red Team is composed of 20 members of the IT community that have been preparing for months to mount offensive attacks on the college students. Globally-recognized industry professionals with monikers like Virus use malware to crash networks and aim to steal the data corporations are legally obligated to keep private.

While teams work to repair existing issues as well as maintaining network security, automated programs send emails and make purchases from the company website. Any outages cost points.

In addition to the technical portion, teams are randomly selected to give status updates to a set of business judges that will score them based on presentation, slides and how the information is packaged.

“We always finish at the top of the technical competitions, but UC Berkley overtook us the last two years because of the business part,” Pike says. “Our goal is to outright win business and it should be enough to get us to back to nationals.”

Cal Poly Pomona’s CCDC teams represented the west in the national competition for three consecutive years and four times in five years between 2009 and 2013.

Cal Poly Pomona WRCCDC Team Roster

  • Joe Needleman
  • Chris Fiorille
  • Juan Ortega
  • David Vidal
  • Henry Ammermann
  • Charles Chong
  • Aric Forrest
  • Jose Ybanez