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Student Competition Tests Cyber Security Skills

College students will test their knowledge of network security while fending off cyber attacks and battling sleep deprivation in an intense cyber security competition. For the second year, the Computer Information Systems Department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) will host the Western Regional Cyber Defense Competition March 27 to 29, 2009.

Eight-member student teams from Cal Poly Pomona, Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA; California State University San Bernardino; California State University, Sacramento; Westwood College in Denver, CO; and the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, AZ will compete. The winning team receives a free trip and a chance to compete for the national title in April at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

During three days of competition, students will function as network and security administrators for a fictional company. While students perform routine tasks, such as establishing employee e-mail accounts, a group of industry experts will attempt to threaten the computer infrastructure of each team. To make the competition even more challenging this year, teams will have to protect their network for 24 consecutive hours.

The team that can provide the most security to their network wins the competition.

"The competition is a realistic scenario of a company in crisis," said Computer Information Systems Professor Dan Manson. "If the student teams know what it's like to survive this trial by fire, they can be an asset to a company in the real world."

Cal Poly Pomona has been designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the United States Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency (NSA). Earlier this year, NSA commended the university for being "well positioned to help ensure the Nation is protected from future cyber vulnerabilities and attacks through the students you educate and the research opportunities you provide."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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