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Knights In Cyber Armor: University of Central Florida Wins Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Championship

The 2014 RNCCDC National Champion University of Central Florida Knights

The 2014 college championship season had its fair share of surprises, Cinderella stories, upsets and underdogs. And the final was a real hackfest – literally. In the end, the story wasn't about Cinderella at all. Because the Knights in cyber armor stole the show.

The University of Central Florida Knights, that is.

Members of the "Blue Team" from UCF were crowned as champions of the 2014 Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (RNCCDC,) earning them a year's worth of bragging rights and a Raytheon-sponsored trip to Washington D.C. on August 19-21, where the team will get a behind-the-scenes look at the front line of US cybersecurity capabilities during visits to the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and Raytheon's own labs.

The Knights narrowly defeated the second-place finishers and defending champions from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Rounding out the "best of the best" field in third place was the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

To reach the championships, about 180 teams from universities and colleges across the United States competed in 10 regional events. Of those, 10 teams won their regions and earned the right to spar for the 2014 title April 25-27 in San Antonio, Texas.

The 10 regional champions were:

During the finals, each team acted as the information technology department for a small business, such as an online pharmacy, utility company or retailer. They attempted to keep their businesses running while fending off cyber-attacks from a team of 20 penetration professionals and white hat hackers — the so-called "red team."

The RNCCDC second place Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers

"Our blue teams – the student teams – will need to perform daily business tasks such as adding new users, fulfilling orders or adding a live chat feature," said Dwayne Williams, the competition's national director. "They need to keep their business running while the red team – the bad guys – try to penetrate the system and steal the data that's most precious to you, like your credit card information and social security number."

The trophy may have left San Antonio in the hands of the UCF Knights. But according to some participants, they weren't the only winners.

"The red team likes to call themselves the national champions because none of the teams in our competition's history have been able to prevent them from infiltrating their networks," Williams said. “But what's very encouraging is our students are able to transform an unsecure network with a ton of vulnerabilities and lock it down, usually, by the second day. They've shown amazing progress."

The RNCCDC third place University of Alaska at Fairbanks Nanooks

The competition is in its ninth year, and Raytheon has signed on as a sponsor through at least 2016. The sponsorship is a big win for both the competition and the Waltham, Mass.-based defense company. Raytheon counts cyber defense as a core capability and has become an industry leader in information assurance.

"Our nation's military, government and commercial sectors are in dire need of cyber talent they can depend on as we rely more and more on the cyber domain." said Lynn Dugle, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. "Raytheon has committed to this competition because we believe in the mission of the NCCDC as a way of providing the real hands-on experience needed in the next generation of cyber leaders."

Last Updated: 08/11/2014

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