Future of cybersecurity on display at PRCCDC

On March 20 - 21, the University of Washington will present the third annual Pacific Rim Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (PRCCDC), also known as "Geeks Under Attack!" The competition asks teams of aspiring cybersecurity professionals to demonstrate their skill at protecting an enterprise network infrastructure and business information systems. Held this year at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash., the contest this year will include more than 50 participating students from six institutions of higher education in Washington.

Date: March 20-21, 2010
Location: Highline Community College, Building 8

Contestants come to compete against their peers and those already working professionally in the cybersecurity field. The contest lasts two days, with the winner advancing to the national competition. During the contest, each student team is presented with a pre-configured networked infrastructure of a fictitious company that they are tasked to operate. A "Red Team" of attackers attempts to vandalize and break into the network. The student teams need to defend against the attacks of the Red Team. The attackers are professionals familiar with the challenges cybersecurity professionals face every day.

"The types of problems we face in the information security field are multiplying" said Dr. Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Director of the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the UW Information School. "Thankfully, innovation is happening in the private sector and at universities like the ones represented at this event. The PRCCDC, and places like the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity here at the University of Washington, are supporting and encouraging collaboration."

PRCCDC is co-sponsored by The Boeing Company and Microsoft, with additional support from Black Hat, Cisco Systems, Inc., City University of Seattle, IOActive and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories. Volunteers from Idaho State University, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington National Guard and Whatcom Community College are providing support and infrastructure. The event is hosted by Highline Community College and the University of Washington Information School's Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (CIAC). CIAC is one of three institutions on the West Coast distinguished as both a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security.

"The teams who perform well at this event always demonstrate just how important leadership and teamwork are when working to protect systems," said Endicott-Popovsky. "And the teams that are successful in the event also know how to communicate effectively about those challenges with their teammates. It's going to take that kind of collaborative effort to develop the transformational cybersecurity solutions we need."

Competing students come from the Information School and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, the Institute of Technology at the University of Washington in Tacoma, DeVry University, Eastern Washington University, Highline Community College and Whatcom Community College.

The goals of the event are to:

  • Build a meaningful mechanism by which institutions of higher education may evaluate their programs
  • Provide an educational venue in which students are able to apply the theory and practical skills they have learned in their course work
  • Foster a spirit of teamwork, ethical behavior, and effective communication both within and across teams; and
  • Create interest and awareness among participating institutions and students.

About the Event Partners

University of Washington Information School
The University of Washington Information School believes in the power of information to change lives. Through instruction, research and practice, the UW Information School helps people address information challenges more ethically, effectively and with a heightened sense of possibility.

The Boeing Company
Boeing is the world's leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft combined. Additionally, Boeing designs and manufactures rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, satellites, launch vehicles and advanced information and communication systems. The company also provides numerous military and commercial airline support services. Boeing has customers in more than 90 countries around the world and is one of the largest U.S. exporters in terms of sales.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Black Hat
Black Hat Training & Briefings are a series of highly technical information security conferences that bring together thought leaders from all facets of the infosec world - from the corporate and government sectors to academic and even underground researchers. The environment is strictly vendor-neutral and focused on the sharing of practical insights and timely, actionable knowledge. Black Hat remains the best and biggest event of its kind, unique in its ability to define tomorrow's information security landscape.

Cisco Systems
Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the world's leading supplier of data networking equipment and software. Its products include routers, switches, access equipment, and network-management software that allow data communication among dispersed computer networks. The firm has also entered newer markets, such as home networking, security devices, storage technology, and Internet-based telephony.

City University of Seattle
Founded in 1973 in Seattle, Washington, City University of Seattle is a private, not-for-profit university that has awarded over 45,000 degrees and certificates worldwide. City University of Seattle's goal is to change lives for good by offering high quality and relevant online and in-class education options to any person in the world with a desire to learn. The university is comprised of The School of Management, The Gordon Albright School of Education, and The Division of Arts and Sciences. Headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, City University of Seattle offers classes at locations throughout Washington, Hawaii, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Slovakia, Greece, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic and China.

Established in 1998, IOActive is an industry leader that offers comprehensive computer security services with specializations in smart grid technologies, software assurance, and compliance. Boasting a well-rounded and diverse clientele, IOActive works with a majority of Global 500 companies including power and utility, hardware, retail, financial, media, aerospace, high-tech, and software development organizations.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratories
PNNL is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) ten national laboratories, managed by DOE's Office of Science. PNNL also performs research for other DOE offices as well as government agencies, universities, and industry to deliver breakthrough science and technology to meet today's key national needs.