Courtesy of Cyber Innovation Challenge

Cal Poly hosted the 2017 California Cyber Innovation Challenge (CCIC) this past weekend at the California Cyber Training Complex (CCTC) at Camp San Luis Obispo. Sixteen high school teams from all over California, including a team from San Luis Obispo High School, came to compete in timed cybersecurity challenges designed to emulate threats modern professionals face.

The CCIC is the state-level cybersecurity high school championships sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), as well as a coalition from the statewide cybersecurity initiative CyberCalifornia.

The Competition

The 16 teams arrived at Cal Poly on Friday, June 23 for opening ceremonies, and began the challenges on Saturday. Students had to compete in two cybersecurity challenges: a competition similar to CyberPatriot and the Digital Forensics Challenge.

According to the CyberPatriot website, “[CyberPatriot] teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services in a six hour period.”

As part of the Digital Forensics Challenge, teams collected physical and digital evidence and used state-of-the-art tools to solve a cyber crime. Evidence was hidden in vehicles and students were given five hours to collect and analyze evidence. The teams presented their solutions in front of a panel of judges on Sunday morning in the Advanced Technology Laboratories (building 7).

The Victors

After two days of competition, North Hollywood High Team Togo won Best Overall and Best CyberPatriot Team, North Hollywood High Team Truman won Best Digital Forensics Challenge and Coast Union High School, Cambria won Best New Cyber Team.

CCTC manager Bruce Burton said hosting the CCIC gave Cal Poly an opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the competition.

“What we added is the Digital Forensics Challenge which actually is a creation based upon the mission of the [California Cyber Training Complex],” Burton said. “Because we have people here who do digital forensics, we said let’s have a competition that’s based around that same mission.”

This year was the second annual CCIC and the first year the Digital Forensics Challenge was included in the competition. This comes three months after the opening of the Central Coast Cyber Forensic Lab at the CCTC that specializes in teaching cyber crime and digital forensics concepts and techniques.

One Cal Poly faculty member involved in hosting the CCIC was Director of Computer Engineering John Oliver. According to Oliver, the competition gave students a look at what cybersecurity looks like in the public sector.

“When most people go into cybersecurity they’re snapped up by large corporations to protect the corporation’s assets,” Oliver said. “What we’re also trying to do here is we’re trying to convince people who are interested in cybersecurity to enter the public sector.”

For the San Luis Obispo High School team, this competition was an opportunity to get back into the game after their computer lab burned down in December. According to San Luis Obispo High senior Kaz Bishop, the fire was an opportunity to start over.

“More than it being a sad thing for us, it was an opportunity for us to rebuild and try harder this time,” Bishop said. “Because we got to start from scratch with everything we already knew and none of the old stuff.”

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