Amna Hadzihasanovic (left), Ederly Beausilien, Dmitriy Koval and Boo Park are four of the nearly 20 Computer Information Systems students who are designing the corporate computer network that will be used during the International Collegiate Cyber Defense Invitational, June 20–22, 2017. Organized and hosted by Highline College, the invitational will bring together students from higher education institutions around the world. Courtesy of Highline College

Local students to participate in first worldwide cyber defense event

One Federal Way student is among others from around the world who will meet June 20–22 at the International Collegiate Cyber Defense Invitational at Highline College. It is the first international event of its kind in the United States.

The invitational will provide students with real-world challenges in thwarting hackers while maintaining a corporate network that cannot be replicated in a typical classroom. This type of practice gives students better training and preparation for the workforce.

“One of the driving forces behind such an event is the globally focused nature of education here at Highline,” said Dr. Amelia Phillips, who is the lead faculty member for Highline’s applied bachelor’s degree program in Cybersecurity and Forensics. “Our campus is as diverse as they come, with over 70 percent students of color and people representing more than 120 cultures and ethnicities. We take great pride in preparing students to live and work in a multicultural world and global economy.”

Highline has extended invitations to colleges and universities in 10 countries, including Indonesia, Moldova, Namibia, Poland and South Africa. To date, there are four confirmed participants: higher education institutions from Indonesia and Namibia as well as two U.S. universities, University of Central Florida and Brigham Young University (Utah). The team from Indonesia will participate remotely.

Highline College annually hosts the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which serves as the regional competition for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. The upcoming International Collegiate Cyber Defense Invitational is modeled after these annual competitions, but is structured as an invitational rather than a competition to encourage the exchange of ideas.

During the invitational, visiting student teams will be participating in a corporate-like scenario created by the Highline College team. Teams may be dealing with unexpected events, people being laid off, installation of a new server or other challenges while being under attack by professional hackers — also known as penetration testers. The hackers will be trained professionals from local government and corporate agencies.

As they did for the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, Highline students — with support from the college’s Information Technology Services staff members — are designing the company network that will be used in the simulation, complete with intentional security flaws. These students are enrolled in the college’s applied bachelor’s (BAS) degree program in Cybersecurity and Forensics and several of its applied associate (AAS) degree programs: Network Security Engineer, Digital Forensics and Web/Database Developer.

The global nature of the event is also evident in the Computer Information Systems students designing the scenario. Four of the nearly 20 Highline students creating the simulation represent the diversity of the college’s campus:

· Ederly Beausilien: Born in Haiti, Beausilien came to the U.S. in 2013 and is now living in Federal Way. He will earn his AAS in Network Security this month and will continue at Highline for his BAS in Cybersecurity and Forensics.

· Amna Hadzihasanovic: Born in Germany, Hadzihasanovic came to Washington by way of Bosnia and Herzegovina when she was just under 4 years old. She earned her associate degree at Highline as a Running Start student from Foster High School and her bachelor’s degree in Law and Justice at Central Washington University. She has returned to Highline to pursue her BAS in Cybersecurity and Forensics. She lives in Tukwila.

· Dmitriy Koval: Born in Ukraine, Koval came to the U.S. while in middle school. He discovered his interest in technology as a student in the Technology Academy program at Kent Meridian High School. He will earn his BAS in Cybersecurity and Forensics at Highline this month. He lives in Kent.

· Boo Park: Born in South Korea, Park came to the U.S. in grade school. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at Western Washington University. He will earn his AAS in Network Security this summer and will continue at Highline for his BAS in Cybersecurity and Forensics. He lives in Kent.

As part of their work, students have been researching the customs and cultures of the participating countries in order to avoid offending visiting students or violating social norms. They have also been studying global information technology terms to ensure they are using terms recognized worldwide. Slang IT terms, especially, can vary from one country to another.

Each participating institution is responsible for paying their own travel expenses and lodging. Phillips said she is pursuing a grant through the National Science Foundation to help support the organizational and infrastructure expenses and looking for sponsors to help pay for meals and other expenses. Highline is holding the event in partnership with and with financial support from CyberWatch West.

The first two days of the event, June 20–21, will be devoted to the simulation with the third day, June 22, reserved for a job fair, sponsor exhibition, debriefings and talks.

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