Cybersecurity competitions are an excellent way to not only practice your cyber skills, but to also demonstrate to a potential employer that you’ve “got skills”. NOVA participates with several national and regional cybersecurity competitions. The most noted of these is the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC). We participate in our region – the Mid-Atlantic CCDC This is a team event, open to full-time cybersecurity students in their second year. Students are expected to harden their systems, keep the mission up and running, and defend their systems against a Red Team (hackers) determined to take them down and disrupt operations. Every Spring semester, we field one or two teams of students (we generally have a B team of students that would not be able to compete in the Regional competition and an A team of students that, if they place highly enough, can advance to the Regional from the qualifying rounds). This is done virtually at NOVA. Students who participate in this must be able to make weekly practice meetings. The winner of the MACCDC moves on in June to compete in the National CCDC.
I STRONGLY encourage all cybersecurity students to participate in the National Cyber League. This is an individual competition (although has an opportunity for team play), designed to emulate a sporting event so is divided up into different conferences. Students work over several months, performing different exercises/labs in a virtual environment mapped to Security+ and Certified Ethical Hacker content, advancing in rank as they progress. There are a couple of Capture-the-Flag events as well. It is an opportunity to have your skills publicly ranked, so that they can be viewed by a potential employer. Registration for this opened August 23rd – so find a faculty mentor at your campus and get started (there is a$20 cost associated with registration).
Students at NOVA have also participated in Cyber Aces – another cyber security competition that is sponsored by SANS. In fact, a couple of our students advanced to State levels and got to meet the Governor down in Richmond! Competition activities are announced on my Facebook page, as well as fed to the NOVA Cybercenter web page. Remember – you can’t all work in internships, what better way to demonstrate your skills to a prospective employer?!
Regards – Dr. Leary