McKendree Cyber Defense Team to Compete in DoE CyberForce

(LEBANON, Ill., October 30, 2019) — McKendree University students will participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) fifth annual CyberForce Competition™ on Nov. 16. Teams from more than 100 colleges and universities in 24 states and Puerto Rico will compete at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill., and nine other national labs from coast to coast, simultaneously.

Organizers describe the competition as “a cyber workforce development tournament that focuses on the defensive and hardening nature of energy infrastructures.” Using interactive, scenario-based events, teams engage in cybersecurity activities such as methods, practices, strategy, policy and ethics. This year, the teams must protect and defend against one of four possible energy-focused scenarios: a solar energy generation facility, a high performance computing data center, an energy distribution substation and a manufacturing facility.

Participants range from first-year students to doctoral candidates. Competing for McKendree will be members of its 117th Regiment Cyber Defense Team: seniors Alyssa Koston (captain), Alijah Thomas and Kyle Hostetter; junior Emily Williams; and first-years Jakob Eddleman and Chloe Gamber.

“Just being invited to this event is pretty prestigious and this is our second year already,” said George Kriss, director of information technology, who advises the McKendree team. “No matter how well we do, this will open up many doors because only a couple hundred students nationally get to compete.”

In 2018, the teams were charged with defending a mock oil transportation network, a power delivery system, and a high-performance computing system against attacks by industry experts at the National Labs, the private sector and the National Guard.

“We faced challenges designed to replicate those commonly found in real life,” Kriss said. “With limited experience, the 117th Regiment placed in the middle of the pack last year against major powerhouses like Purdue, UCF, KU, Berkley, NYU, Columbia University, UCDavis, Penn State, RIT, Carnegie Mellon and many more schools.”