Students Participate in National Cybersecurity Competition

Missoula College students participated in a month-long, nationwide series of cybersecurity activities. “These students are graduating with an A.A.S. in Information Technology – Network Administration & Security, and this is a chance for them to test their skills and knowledge against their peers,” said Adjunct Professor Dianne Burke, who leads the ITS 222 and ITS 271 courses that participated.

The first several days of the competition gives students the opportunity to refresh their skills or learn new information through online labs and review activities. The materials include topics such as Password Cracking, Log Analysis, Cryptography, Network Traffic Analysis, and Web and Wireless Vulnerabilities. “Students tend to like his part of the competition since there’s no pressure, and they can select exercises that sound interesting,” stated Burke. “The Preseason and Regular Season competitions that follow kick up the intensity.”

The Preseason phase assess student knowledge in four domains: general cybersecurity knowledge, cryptography, network traffic analysis, and log file analysis. Students are ranked based on their accuracy – how quickly they found the correct answer – and completion – how many questions were answered correctly. “Overall, everyone scored in the top 40% or higher. Almost 1900 students competed, so Missoula College did really well,” explained Burke.

When asked which areas were problematic for students, Burke laughed and said “They did really well in general cybersecurity knowledge and cryptography. Next year I’m going to spend more time on network traffic and log analysis before we start competing.”