ECE, CS Students Win Global Cybersecurity Contests


November 30, 2011

A team of ECE and computer science students led by ECE Assistant Professor David Brumley are using their competitive skills to rack up global victories as members of CMU's Capture the Flag team. Capture the Flag (CTF) is a computer security war game in which each participating team or individual competes to find a key source of information by solving a litany of challenges.

Since late October, the CMU CTF team has won two prestigious contests. On Oct. 24, they won the SecuInside CTF contest in South Korea, winning $30,000. In early November, they entered two teams at the Polytechnic Institute of New York (NYU-Poly) CSAW contest and took first and second place, netting another $1,750.

"The SecuInside contest was an attack-defense competition, so our goal was to take a server running a set of services (with each team getting identical servers), fix vulnerabilities quickly, and exploit the other team's vulnerabilities before they get theirs fixed," said Team President Tyler Nighswander, a senior computer science major.

"These competitions and team-building challenges help our students build new skills and learn to be competitive in an ever-expanding global work environment," said Brumley, who praised his team and pointed out that the international competitions also allow students to better understand Web hacking, binary reverse engineering, forensics and cryptography.

In addition to Nighswander, other team members include Matt Dickoff, a junior in electrical and computer engineering; Andrew Wesie and Ricky Zhou, both juniors in computer science; and Brian Pak, a sophomore in computer science.

For more information, visit the team's website.

Chriss Swaney

The 2011 CMU Capture the Flag team.

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David Brumley