The cybersecurity field may be growing rapidly, but it is notoriously difficult to gain the skills and experience to be qualified for an entry-level position.
Cybersecurity competitions provide an environment for students to practice using the equipment, tools, and services that are used by companies across the globe. Our mission is to give students the opportunity to prepare for and compete in these competitions in order to give them the advantage when entering the workforce after college. In addition, we send as many new students as possible to each competition so that both returning and new members of the club are able to gain the real-world experience that comes from competing.
The University of Maine Cybersecurity Team was formed to compete at the Northeast CCDC (NECCDC). This competition focuses on managing and defending the network of a mock company that is designed to mimic a company that would exist in real life. Student competitors receive assignments from upper management, provide products and services to customers, and defend against hackers just as they would in the industry.
We typically spend around five months of the school year preparing for this competition. Using our lab resources and alumni, we host several practice competitions throughout the year complete with a white team (our mock company's management) and a red team (malicious hackers trying to break into our network). Our most important resource is UMCST's famous "NECCDC Playbook", full of all the tips, tricks, and guides we have compiled over the years. You have to be a member to read and contribute, but for the curious you can check out some public resources to which we have contributed.
The University of Maine has had the opportunity to host the NECCDC several times. In 2010, the leadership of Professor George Markowsky, then the head of the Computer Science department in UMaine's school of Liberal Arts and Sciences, helped to make UMaine's first NECCDC the largest yet. We hosted NECCDC a second time in 2013, again in 2016 and 2020.
UMCST achieved 3rd place this year in the 2021 NECCDC.
- Professor George Markowsky, Ph.D.
"The NECCDC is a tremendously positive event in the preperation of the generation of cybersecurity professionals and deserves widespread support. We have seen the positive impact on the students as a result... they acquire a great appreciation for the knowledge gained and the importance of cybersecurity to both our personal and business world."
After the success of NECCDC, the CPTC was started as a way to prepare students not only to defend a network, but to ethically attack a network in order to discover the same vulnerabilities a malicious hacker would find. Student competitors will create a report detailing the issues that were found on a mock company's network, in addition to detailing how those issues should be fixed.
Preparations for the CPTC begin in the spring after NECCDC, and continue through the summer as club members are available. We continue to prepare around our introductory labs conducted at the beginning of the fall semester, with the competition occurring in October. Our first CPTC was in 2016, we attended again in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Hivestorm is a defensive competition where teams participate remotely to remediate security vulnerabilities in Windows and Linux virtual machines. Scoring is done in real-time and more difficult tasks are given more points. The competition is held in the fall and is a great opportunity for new members to get experience right away.