Tennessee Tech Takes Third Place in Global Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition Finals

COOKEVILLE, TN – Recently announced on Twitter, Tennessee Tech’s CPTC team won 3rd place in the Global CPTC International Finals held in Rochester, NY January 6-9, 2022. A total of 16 teams completed in the international competition. First place went to Cal Poly Pomona with second place going to Stanford University.

While weather-related issues made travel to Rochester impossible, Tech’s team demonstrated their resilience and competed remotely with the team distributed over multiple locations across the state. “The agility and determination of this team has been nothing less than impressive” stated CEROC’s assistant director, Eric Brown. “We are incredibly proud of their achievements.” Dr. Ambareen Siraj, center director, noted “This year we had a team of great students who have consistently demonstrated their passion for cybersecurity, continuous learning, work ethics and collaborative mindset. Perfect recipe of a winning team!”

From the competitions website, “At its heart, CPTC is a bit different from several other collegiate Cybersecurity competitions. Instead of defending your network, searching for flags, or claiming ownership of systems, CPTC focuses on mimicking the activities performed during a real-world penetration testing engagement conducted by companies, professional services firms, and internal security departments around the world.”

“To give an idea of the level of this competition; during both the 2020-2021 and the 2019-2020 competition cycles, some teams had more than 100 students attend tryouts. During the Global Finals, competitors discovered zero-days in commercial technologies, registered them as CVEs, and designed a patch for the most critical vulnerability. Many students get co-op and career job offers as a direct result of the Sponsor Faire.”

Each year of the competition focuses on a different business sector. In the past, these sectors have included Energy, Finance, Transportation, and Healthcare. This year’s competition focused on the Food Manufacturing and Retail sector.

The team consists of team captain Kaitlyn Carroll, Austin Brown, Austin Tice, Jesse Holland, Jacob Sweeten, and John Housley.  Five members of the six-member team are CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (a program funded by the National Science Foundation) students. 

More information about CPTC can be found at https://cp.tc. More information about Tennessee Tech can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/about.

About Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center

CEROC at Tennessee Tech University, established under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry.  CEROC is an NSA-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) and host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee.  CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity initiative, the largest of its type in the world focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu.

Tennessee Tech Moves Forward to the Global Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition Finals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(contact cerocmedia@tntech.edu, (931) 372-3519 for more information)
November 30, 2021

COOKEVILLE, TN – Recently announced on Twitter, Tennessee Tech’s CPTC team has secured a wildcard slot allowing them to move forward to the Global CPTC International Finals to be held in Rochester, NY January 6-9, 2022. This will the team’s first return to the finals since 2018.

First place regional winners Cal Poly Pomona, Princess Sumaya University for Technology, Dakota State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Florida, and Masaryk University were guaranteed a finals position after regional competitions. Joining Tennessee Tech as wildcard winners are California State University – Fullerton, DePaul University, Drexel University, Stanford University, University of New Haven, University of Tulsa, and University of West Florida.

From the competitions website, “At its heart, CPTC is a bit different from several other collegiate Cybersecurity competitions. Instead of defending your network, searching for flags, or claiming ownership of systems, CPTC focuses on mimicking the activities performed during a real-world penetration testing engagement conducted by companies, professional services firms, and internal security departments around the world.”

“To give an idea of the level of this competition; during both the 2020-2021 and the 2019-2020 competition cycles, some teams had more than 100 students attend tryouts. During the Global Finals, competitors discovered zero-days in commercial technologies, registered them as CVEs, and designed a patch for the most critical vulnerability. Many students get co-op and career job offers as a direct result of the Sponsor Faire.”

Each year of the competition focuses on a different business sector. In the past, these sectors have included Energy, Finance, Transportation, and Healthcare. This year’s competition focus will be on the Food Manufacturing and Retail sector.

“We are thrilled to return to the finals this year! After a semester of restarts after COVID interrupted/modified so many competition schedules, it is nice to feel like we are back in the lane again. We are incredibly proud of the efforts of these young men and women” stated Eric Brown, assistant director for the center. The team consists of team captain Kaitlyn Carroll, Austin Brown, Austin Tice, Jesse Holland, Jacob Sweeten, and John Housley.  Five members of the six-member team are CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (a program funded by the National Science Foundation) students. 

More information about CPTC can be found at https://cp.tc. More information about Tennessee Tech can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/about.

About Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center

CEROC at Tennessee Tech University, established under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry.  CEROC is an NSA-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) and host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee.  CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity initiative, the largest of its type in the world focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu.

It is Cyber Competition Time in Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(contact cerocmedia@tntech.edu, (931) 372-3519 for more information)
October 27, 2021

COOKEVILLE, TN – It is that time of year.  Leaves are changing color; the days are getting cooler; pumpkins are making their appearances around the area; and cyber competitions are in full swing.  Tennessee Tech Computer Science students and CyberEagles members have competed in three different competitions over the October 22 – 24, 2021 weekend. A total of 26 students competed in the National Cyber League (NCL) Competition Individual game, Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC), and Social Engineering Capture the Flag Competition (SECTF). There were also several students that competed in more than of these competitions.

Students from Tennessee Tech have always posted a good showing in both the individual and team games of NCL.  In past years, TNTech had a student place third in the nation and several in the top 10% of the individual game nationally.  Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students.  While the Fall 2021 Individual Game stats have not been finalized at this time, history would suggest a strong finish.  During the Spring 2021 competition, TNTech ranked 10th overall in the nation ranking 8th in Teams, 40th in Individuals, and 14th in Participation.  Over 300 colleges and universities across the US participate in NCL.  Full results for the Spring 2021 competition can be found at https://cyberskyline.com/data/power-ranking/spring-2021-national.

Tennessee Tech was honored to host the CPTC United States Central region for the third year and participate in the competition for the fifth year. Like so many other events, COVID-19 has changed the way events are conducted. This year’s event was completely virtual with some participating teams having members working from different locations. It was truly a distributed event. The top winning team from this region will join the winners from the other CPTC regions around the world, which include Canada and the Middle East, for the international competition. Seven additional teams will be selected at large to compete in the international competition.  Participating in this event was team captain Kaitlyn Carroll, Austin Brown, Austin Tice, Jesse Holland, Jacob Sweeten, and John Housley.  Five members of the six-member team were CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (a program funded by the National Science Foundation) students.  The team posted a solid performance.  Dakota State took first place in the region moving to the next round.

This is the second year SECTF has been held. SECTF is hosted by Temple University’s Cybersecurity in Application, Research & Education (CARE) Lab and funded by NSF and sponsored by Google.  This competition challenges undergraduate students to gain first-hand cyberattack and cybersecurity experience by using social engineering prowess in a real-life scenario judged by industry professionals. This scenario focuses on four categories: Open-source intelligence (OSINT), Phishing, Vishing, and Reporting. This is the first year that Tennessee Tech has participated in SECTF, and we are proud to have placed 3rd.  TNTech participants include Mimi Vertrees, Mia Fisher, Hayden Keller, Colin Lafever, and Hallie Sevier.

“These types of competitions provide essential ‘out of classroom’ experiences which these students will need in the upcoming careers” noted Eric Brown, Assistant Director for CEROC. “The successful outcomes of these competition are a unique combination of the incredible students with which we interact every day, an excellent computer science program with the best overall cybersecurity program in the state, and professional growth provided by the peer mentoring opportunities afforded by CEROC. We say it often… our students are the life-blood of our center.”

About Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center

CEROC at Tennessee Tech University, established under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry.  CEROC is an NSA-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) and host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee.  CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity initiative, the largest of its type in the world focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(contact ceroc@tntech.edu, (931) 372-3519 for more information)
October 27, 2021

COOKEVILLE, TN – Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021 Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.  Americans are spending more time online than ever before using more devices that ever before. As more people online services for shopping, banking, financial management, and socializing, they also expose themselves to increased cyber risks. Online threats and cyber-attacks threaten the future of our national and economic security. Because cybersecurity is important to our Nation, the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) at Tennessee Tech University has joined with the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency to raise cybersecurity awareness across the Nation during Cybersecurity Awareness Month this October.  CEROC is a 2021 Champion of the CSAM program.

Now in its 18th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month focused on the tenants of Be Cyber Smart, Fight the Phish, Explore.Experience.Share., and Cybersecurity First.  The campaign stresses that cybersecurity is not simply a government and industry concern; cybersecurity starts at home.  This fact is especially true with a portion of the workforce permanently moving to “work at home” models.  Cybersecurity awareness begins from the moment that we pick up our smartphone and continues with every computer and kiosk that we use during the day to work, shop, eat, and play.

To celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month, CEROC is sharing cybersecurity best practices throughout its social media, printed and broadcasted media, and other networks to encourage everyone to consider the role the individual plays in keeping our nation cyber aware and ready.  As a new addition to the center’s cyber awareness efforts, CEROC sponsored the “Adopt a Kin” campaign encouraging computer science students at Tennessee Tech to reach out to their parents and grandparents and have conversations (maybe even training times) about best cybersecurity practices.  These conversations can address social media uses, phishing awareness, or fraudulent calls seeking to scam the elderly via social engineering.

Consider some of the following cyber facts:

  • The average total cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million and took an average of 280 days to identify and contain.
  • The use of new breach techniques has boomed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 35% of breaches having leveraged new techniques in 2020.
  • 88% of data breaches are caused by human error.
  • 61% of data breaches used compromised credentials.
  • 56% of IT leaders believe their employees have picked up bad cybersecurity behaviors since working from home.
  • More than 99.9% of Microsoft enterprise accounts that get invaded by attackers didn’t use multi-factor authentication.
  • Phishing attacks account for more than 80% of reported security incidents.
  • 80% of companies say they have a hard time finding and hiring security talent.
  • By 2029, the cybersecurity job market is set to grow by 31%.
  • Global spending on cybersecurity is set to cross $60 billion in 2021.
  • The IoT (Internet of Things) market is anticipated to reach $1.1 trillion by 2026.

What can you do??

  • Enable stronger authentication. Always enable stronger authentication for an extra layer of security beyond the password that is available on most major email, social media and financial accounts. Stronger authentication (e.g., multi-factor authentication that can use a one-time code texted to a mobile device) helps verify that a user has authorized access to an online account. For more information about authentication, visit the Lock Down Your Login Campaign at www.lockdownyourlogin.org.
  • Make your passwords long & strong. Use complex passwords with a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters. Use unique passwords for different accounts. Change your passwords regularly, especially if you believe they have been compromised.
  • Keep a clean machine. Update the security software, operating system, and web browser on all of your Internet-connected devices. Keeping your security software up to date will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email and online posts are often the way cyber criminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious (even if you know the source), delete it.
  • Share with care. Limit the amount of personal information you share online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
  • Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices. Secure your Wi-Fi network, and your digital devices, by changing the factory-set default password and username.

Learn more about Cybersecurity Awareness Month and how to protect yourself from threats online at https://staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month/.   Cyber safety resources can be found on the STC website at https://www.dhs.gov/about-stopthinkconnect.  As always, cyber resources addressing cyber safety, cyber curriculum for schools, and research can be found on CEROC’s website at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc.

About Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center

CEROC at Tennessee Tech University, established under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry.  CEROC is an NSA-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) and host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee.  CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity initiative, the largest of its type in the world focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu.

About Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Cybersecurity Awareness Month is designed to engage and educate public- and private-sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity to increase the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident. Since the Presidential proclamation establishing Cybersecurity Awareness Month in 2004, the initiative has been formally recognized by Congress, federal, state and local governments and leaders from industry and academia. This united effort is necessary to maintain a cyberspace that is safer and more resilient and remains a source of tremendous opportunity and growth for years to come. For more information, visit staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month/ .

About National Cyber Security Alliance

The National Cyber Security Alliance is a nonprofit alliance on a mission to create a more secure connected world.  We enable powerful, public-private partnerships in our mission to educate and inspire individuals to protect themselves, their families and their organizations for the collective good.  Our primary partners are the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and our Board of Directors, which includes representatives from ADP; AIG; Bank of America; Cofense; Discover; Eli Lilly and Company; ESET North America; Facebook; KnowBe4; La-Z-Boy; Lenovo; Marriott International; Mastercard; Microsoft; Mimecast; NortonLifeLock; Paubox; Proofpoint; Raytheon Intelligence & Space; Terranova Security; US Bank; VISA; Wells Fargo. The National Cyber Security Alliance’s core efforts include Cybersecurity Awareness Month (October); Data Privacy Day (Jan. 28); Identity Management Day; and CyberSecure My Business™. For more information on the National Cyber Security Alliance, please visit https://staysafeonline.org.

Tennessee Tech / CEROC awarded $4.44 Million National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Grant (2021 – 2026)

The Cybersecurity Education, Research, and Outreach Center (CEROC) at Tennessee Tech University is excited to announce its most recent grant award – that National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) Grant (Award# 2043324).  This is the second such grant award from the National Science Foundation to Tennessee Tech.  The five-year grant provides funding for Tennessee Tech students to complete their computer science degree with a concentration in cybersecurity and prepare to join the cybersecurity workforce in the U.S. Government.  Funding includes the following:

  • Full coverage of all tuition
  • $6,000 as Professional Allowance
  • $25,000 stipend (for undergrads starting from junior year to earn accelerated M.Sc. with B.Sc.)
  • $34,000 stipend (for graduate students for M.Sc. and Ph.D.)
Students attending CyberCorps SFS job fair in Washington D.C.

CEROC is completing its first five-year cycle in the CyberCorps SFS program (Award# 1565562).  This newly awarded SFS grant breaks the first record-setting SFS grant for Tennessee Tech originally valued at $4.3 million.  This 1st grant would later be extended to $5 million with addition of special projects over the years.  Under the 2016-2021 grant, 38 students have completed / are completing their computer science degree in cybersecurity with 92% of participants finishing at the Masters of Science level.  These individuals are now (or soon will be) cyber defenders protecting the national cyber infrastructure in mostly federal government positions.  “In today’s technological world, patriots can defend their country in cyberspace, and this elite program provides paths for such undertaking by enabling students to obtain a quality cyber education, gain critical hands-on technical skills, and join peers in the nation to fight cyber criminals” stated Dr. Ambareen Siraj, director of the center and principal investigator of the grant.  “We have been blessed to see some amazing students from our Computer Science program, enter and thrive in the field.  A career field, I might add, that is seeing a deficit close to half a million nationally.  Our nation desperately needs more cyber career professionals to keep peace on cyberspace!”

The first SFS funding cycle provided some firsts in SFS program which have contributed to the state/regional/national community.  Tennessee Tech was the first institution in the state of Tennessee to receive an SFS grant and remains the largest such program in the state.  CEROC was the originating institution for the annual CyberCorps SFS Bootcamp for incoming SFS scholars across the nation.  Tennessee Tech was one of ten institutions in the nation to participate in a pilot program working to improve the bridge between community college cyber programs and four-year cyber programs.  “It is very rewarding to see how the SFS CyberCorps program has had such a positive impact in multiple ways – not just at Tennessee Tech but in the state, region and nation.  It is an honor to work with such an amazing program management team and cyber scholars” remarked Eric Brown, the center’s assistant director.

The new grant, another new record for Tennessee Tech, is valued at $4.44 million dollars and will fund another 30+ students to continue or launch their cybersecurity careers.  This new grant will also provide funding for the development of a new “cyber-crime, law, and society” minor for Computer Science and Sociology & Political Science undergraduate students further expanding the cyber education opportunities on the Tennessee Tech campus.  Tennessee Tech is one of 93 (8 community colleges, 85 four-year schools) participating institutions in the SFS program.  In addition to SFS, Tennessee Tech is the only institution in the state to participate in the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship program, a similar program operated with only Department of Defense agencies.  Tech’s participation in both of these programs makes it among an elite group of institutions in the nation to host both programs.

More information about the SFS program including a link to the application can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc/education/sfs.  General information inquiries can be sent to sfs@tntech.edu or by calling (931) 372-3519.

CEROC:  Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center at Tennessee Tech University, established under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry.  CEROC is an NSA-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) and host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee.  CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity initiative, the largest of its type in the world focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu.

CEROC Presents – Crowdsource Learning in Cybersecurity with Cyber Interest Groups

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Eric Brown, elbrown@tntech.edu, 931-372-3519

On March 4, 2021 CEROC staff and students conducted a webinar entitled “Crowdsource Learning in Cybersecurity with Cyber Interest Groups” as part of its Cybersecurity Education Diversity Initiative (CEDI) Coalition Project at TNTech program series. The webinar discussed the peer mentoring program at CEROC as implemented through the center’s cybersecurity interest groups (CIG). These CIGs include specialties in defensive and offensive cybersecurity as well as capture the flag (CTF) competitions. Students from HBCUs and MSIs seeking to create such groups were invited to participate. The CEROC CIGs will work with these schools to develop their own interest groups.

The webinar was led by Dr. Ambareen Siraj (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ambareensiraj/) and CyberCorps SFS students Austin Tice, Max Layer, and Austin Brown along with undergraduate CIG leaders Mia Fisher and Mike Soare. During the webinar, presenters discussed

  • the nature of the CIGs
  • how they are executed
  • examples of activities
  • specific competitions related to each CIG
  • the benefits of peer mentoring

Students participating in the event came from:

  • Hampton University
  • Fisk University
  • Coppin State University
  • Jarvis Christian College
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico
  • Stillman College
  • Prairie View A&M
  • University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
  • University of the District of Columbia

A recording of the webinar can be found at https://youtu.be/ROlQ3tsxBt0. More information about the CEDI project at TNTech can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc/outreach/cedi.php. Information about CEROC can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc.

CEROC Presents – Creating and Sustaining Cybersecurity Clubs on College Campuses

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Eric Brown, elbrown@tntech.edu, 931-372-3519

On February 25, 2021 CEROC staff and students conducted a webinar entitled “Creating and Sustaining Cybersecurity Clubs on College Campuses” as part of its Cybersecurity Education Diversity Initiative (CEDI) Coalition Project at TNTech program series. The webinar discussed cybersecurity clubs at TNTech, namely CyberEagles and CyberEagles-W, and their influence on the peer networking and mentoring program at CEROC. CyberEagles-W is the first Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS, wicys.org) student chapter in the nation out of the current 114 chapters, whose focus is empowering female students, who are under-represented in cyber. Representatives from these clubs extended their offerings to HBCUs and MSIs seeking to create such cohorts to drive interest in a future cybersecurity program.

Students participating in the webinar came from schools in nine different states such as

  • Angelo State University
  • Baltimore City Community College
  • Community College of Denver
  • Fisk University
  • Jarvis Christian College
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico
  • Stillman College
  • Tennessee State University
  • Tougaloo College
  • University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
  • University of the District of Columbia
  • Winston-Salem State University

The webinar was led by Dr. Ambareen Siraj (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ambareensiraj/) and CyberCorps SFS students Andy Brown (CyberEagles president), Kaitlyn Carroll (CyberEagles-W president), and Hallie Sevier (CyberEagles-W vice-president). Joining them was computer science graduate student Dee Zhao (CyberEagles vice-president).

A recording of the webinar can be found at https://youtu.be/Hs62PQ2pPJ8. More information about the CEDI project at TNTech can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc/outreach/cedi.php. Information about CEROC can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc. Information about CyberEagles and CyberEagles-W can be found at https://cybereagles.org.

CEROC Hosts Community College Cyber Enrichment (C3E) Workshop

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Eric Brown, elbrown@tntech.edu, 931-372-3519

Cookeville, TN – The Community College Cyber Enrichment (C3E) program is funded by the Department of Defense via the Cybersecurity Scholarship Capacity Building Program to grow the pipeline of cybersecurity workforce from community colleges in Tennessee. The project provides opportunities and resources for Tennessee community college students in academic pathways to Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees in computer science and cybersecurity and ultimately leads to careers in the cyber security workforce. The project
aims to foster an interest in cybersecurity and provide students exposure to careers available in this field.

This year, Tennessee Tech University / CEROC successfully hosted two webinars for C3E, as well as a workshop for interested community college students. Like many events this year, COVID-19 restrictions necessitated virtual meetings for all events. Students participating in the program received a stipend from DoD. Over 60 community college students from seven different community colleges in Tennessee attended the virtual workshop held on November 6-7, 2020.

C3E Participants

During the workshop they received advice from individuals who are currently working in the industry, as well as professors and currently enrolled students who shared their experience with cybersecurity. Students were able to expand their social network through breakout rooms. They were also able to participate in some CTF challenges on the soarCTF platform (a CTF written by Tennessee Tech CyberCorps SFS and DoD CySP scholars) with volunteers from the CyberEagles student cybersecurity club providing logistical support.

Speakers featured during the event included:

For the upcoming Spring and Fall semesters, selected students will be sponsored to participate in an online cybersecurity competition with training as well as opportunity to attend a cybersecurity conference that will take place Summer 2021. Selected applicants will have sponsored opportunities to participate in a summer bridge program at Tennessee Tech University, and can apply for DoD and CySP Scholarship program.

CEROC: Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center at Tennessee Tech University, under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on crowd-sourced education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry. CEROC is an NSA-accredited Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE), host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee, and host of the only DoD Cyber Scholarship program site in the state placing the center among the top tier of such centers in the nation. CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity Conference, the largest conference of its type focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce. More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu

Tennessee Tech Students Continue to Improve Skill by Placing in Top 5 Nationally in Fall 2020 National Cyber League – Team Game

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Eric Brown, cerocmedia@tntech.edu, 931-372-3519

Cookeville, TN – Tennessee Tech Computer Science students and CyberEagles members continue to earn top 100 rankings, this time in the team game portion of the 2020 National Cyber League (NCL) competition conducted November 6-8, 2020. This season four teams competed. The teams were formed from members of the CyberEagles Capture the Flag (CTF) Cyber Interest Group.

This year, out of the four teams, two teams rank in the top 100 out of 957 teams. The first team ranked 88th and consisted of the following members: Alex Marti, Kendall Land, Jevin Evans, Bethanie Williams, Daniel Simpson, and Dee Zhao. Our highest ranked team placed 3rd place this year and was made up by the following members: Andy Brown, Austin Brown, Austin Tice, Joshua Vick, Jacob Sweeten, Nick Stone, and Samuel Neel. Cyber Range Engineer at the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) and team advisor, Travis Lee, said “Looking back on how well our teams ranked in the past, we have definitely become more consistent and continue to gain better overall performance.” 

“Tennessee Tech / CEROC CTF teams have gained a great deal of respect in this area of competition. This is yet another example of how these incredible students can collaborate to do even greater things together. We are very proud of the efforts of these teams.”, Eric Brown, Assistant Director for CEROC.

Fall 2020 Team Results

NCL seeks to provide an ongoing virtual training ground for participants to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills using next-generation high-fidelity simulation environments. 

One of the distinguishing factors of the NCL is the integration of learning objectives in all its activities. One of the main ways this is accomplished is by aligning customized content available in NCL Gymnasiums with simulations and games available in the NCL Stadium. This allows players to use the Gym environment to develop knowledge and skills and then demonstrate these newly acquired skills in competitive individual and team play. It also allows the NCL to measure player’s game performance and produce individualized reports (NCL Scouting Report) on strengths and weakness among various learning objectives and industry-recognized competencies. For more information about NCL, goto https://www.nationalcyberleague.org/about.  

CEROC: Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center at Tennessee Tech University, under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on crowd-sourced education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry. CEROC is an NSA-accredited Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE), host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee, and host of the only DoD Cyber Scholarship program site in the state placing the center among the top tier of such centers in the nation. CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity Conference, the largest conference of its type focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce. More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu

Tennessee Tech Continues to Place Among the Top in the Nation in Fall 2020 National Cyber League – Individual Game

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Eric Brown, cerocmedia@tntech.edu, 931-372-3519

Cookeville, TN – Tennessee Tech Computer Science students and CyberEagles members have completed another very successful individual game season as part of the 2020 National Cyber League (NCL) competition conducted October 23-25, 2020. A total of 25 members of the CyberEagles Capture the Flag (CTF) Cyber Interest Group competed in this season. Five members of the group, four of which are CyberCorps SFS Scholars, scored in the Top 100 in the nation. To place this accomplishment in perspective, the competition hosted 6,013 participants in this year’s individual game. Congratulations to Nick Stone placing 68th, Jacob Sweeten placing 60th, Joshua Vick placing 26th, and Austin Brown placing 22nd. A special congratulations goes to Andy Brown who finished 9th in the nation with 2,735 points out of an available 3000 with an 83.77% accuracy rate. Cyber Range Engineer at the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) and team advisor, Travis Lee, said “these students continue to learn and do a fantastic job. I think our students’ efforts are starting to show when you look at how far all of them have come in events such as this.” 

“These types of competitions provide essential ‘out of classroom’ experiences which these students will need in the upcoming careers” noted Eric Brown, Assistant Director for CEROC. “The successful outcomes of this competition are a unique combination of the incredible students with which we interact every day, an excellent computer science program with the best overall cybersecurity program in the state, and professional growth provided by the peer mentoring opportunities afforded by the cybersecurity interest groups within CyberEagles. We say it often… our students are the life-blood of our center.”

NCL seeks to provide an ongoing virtual training ground for participants to develop, practice, and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills using next-generation high-fidelity simulation environments. 

One of the distinguishing factors of the NCL is the integration of learning objectives in all its activities. One of the main ways this is accomplished is by aligning customized content available in NCL Gymnasiums with simulations and games available in the NCL Stadium. This allows players to use the Gym environment to develop knowledge and skills and then demonstrate these newly acquired skills in competitive individual and team play. It also allows the NCL to measure player’s game performance and produce individualized reports (NCL Scouting Report) on strengths and weakness among various learning objectives and industry-recognized competencies. For more information about NCL, goto https://www.nationalcyberleague.org/about.  

From here, the students will continue to the team-based portion of the season with the team game being held November 6-8, 2020. All of these games are conducted online, a helpful reality during this time of social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions. 

CEROC: Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center at Tennessee Tech University, under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on crowd-sourced education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry. CEROC is an NSA-accredited Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE), host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee, and host of the only DoD Cyber Scholarship program site in the state placing the center among the top tier of such centers in the nation. CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity Conference, the largest conference of its type focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce. More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu