ISU Headlines

Idaho State University’s NIATEC program hosts cyber competition

Posted March 20, 2014

The Idaho State University National Information Assurance Training and Education Center (NIATEC) program recently hosted the first local cyber competition on the ISU campus.

Universities and high schools from around the Idaho and Utah participated in the competition, titled the NIATEC Cyber Defense Competition. NIATEC intends to continue the series in the future and expand its scope.

Six teams competed for scholarship prizes. Brigham Young University and Brigham Young University-Idaho each brought two teams, and the ISU College of Technology and North Ridge High School, Layton, Utah, also brought teams. The Northridge team was a finalist in the national CyberPatriot computer security competition.

This cyber defense competition was comprised of a red team, blue team and white team. The blue team was comprised of the visiting student teams trying to defend their systems from cyber-attacks completed by the red team, which was comprised of NIATEC alumni who work in computer security for the United States government. The white team was comprised of current ISU NIATEC students who created the virtual environment and entire competition from scratch.

Student competitors came to the ISU College of Business at 7:30 a.m. and stayed until early evening to compete on the day of the competition.

ISU NIATEC graduate students developed the hardware, software and system used by the teams in the competition.

“The NIATEC students were impatient for the opportunity to use their innovative design,” said Corey Schou, director of ISU Informatics Research Institute and associate dean of the College of Business, “The wait paid off for everyone, and the competition worked successfully. The design gave each team a set of virtual computers and networks composed of 12 systems that they could manipulate through the Internet.”

“The NIATEC students worked very hard to put on this competition,” Schou said. “We had to come together as a team to be able execute the plan and have everything ready in time. The NIATEC team is pleased with results. The competitors and their sponsor were impressed with the learning experience and had fun at the same time.”

The funding for this event and its scholarship prizes came from a competitive grant awarded to ISU by the National Security Agency. (ISC)2, the largest security professional certifying organization, donated more than $100,000 in network equipment to make the competition possible. The grant was authored by James Frost, an ISU assistant research professor.

The National Information Assurance Training and Education Center (NIATEC) has a mission to provide outstanding academic opportunities that develop educated workers for government, academia, and industry for its group of MBA students who are emphasizing in Information Assurance. As part of the program, students receive paid tuition, books, anda monthly stipend in exchange for two years of service to their country. In most cases, students serve in the federal government to help protect critical infrastructure and our nation’s valued systems.