A cybersecurity competition was hosted this April 30-May by KU EECS. The event included Jayhawk engineering students and soldiers from the First Infantry Division at Fort Riley against a group of professional hackers. The students and soldiers used EECS laboratory facilities in Eaton Hall.
The competition consisted of three teams. One team included only First Infantry Division soldiers. The other two were a mix of soldiers and students from KU’s cyber defense team, the JayHackers. Each team was given virtual systems to fortify and maintain before professional hackers attempted to break into them.
On day one of the competition, soldiers and students had lectures and briefings in the morning and spent the afternoon checking their systems and making them secure as possible. On May 1 a group of professional hackers tried to break into the systems.
“We give the teams systems with vulnerabilities. They may contain Trojan horses or backdoor accounts,” said Bo Luo, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and adviser to the Jayhacker team. “However, we don’t give the professional hackers any prior knowledge of the systems, so they will have to scan the systems to find vulnerabilities to penetrate.”
The JayHackers team is a group of students interested in cybersecurity. It allows students to actively apply their skills outside of the classroom in national competitions. In October 2014, the team placed first in the inaugural Central Area Networking and Security Workshop (CANSec) at KU.
“The club has given me a chance to network with professionals in K.C., help teach other students and taught me how to be an effective leader,” said JayHacker team captain Christopher Seasholtz, a master’s student in computer engineering.
This competition is an outreach event as part of a $4.7 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to KU to educate cyber defense experts dedicated to public service.
The initiative, called “CyberCorps: New Scholarship for Service Program at the University of Kansas — Jayhawk SFS,” supports dozens of undergraduate, master's and doctoral students, who following graduation commit to work at government cybersecurity jobs safeguarding critical infrastructure.