Northern Michigan University student Christopher Abbott won third place in the 2017 Cyber Security Challenge at the Association of Information Technology National Collegiate Conference. The qualification round for the Cyber Security Challenge included a 60-minute written test on computer security, methods and tools. More than 85 individuals competed.
“I felt like I was pretty prepared for it,” said Abbott. “Going through the Security+ certification in one of my previous NMU classes really helped me have an idea of what to expect because it taught me the principles on which we were being tested.”
Ninety flags were designed for the final “puzzle” round, which covered 13 different challenge categories: cryptography, current events, database security, exploitation, log analysis, network forensics, open source intelligence, password security, physical security, regulation knowledge, reverse engineering, technical knowledge and web security. The top 10 finalists had two hours and 35 minutes to complete as many puzzles as possible. At the completion of each puzzle, participants found the flags and submitted them for points.
“My overall strategy was to start the automated processes, namely password brute forcing, in the background while I started knocking out as many of the low-effort, low-point challenges as I could,” said Abbott. “Then, I moved on to one of my more competent areas, which is open source intelligence. It was a very close contest, with the top five scores separated by 3 percent.”
More than 550 students, faculty and industry professionals attended the conference. According to Abbott, it provided networking and educational opportunities. The competition was hosted by WraySec LLC., a cyber security consulting firm.