ISEAGE, part of the Information Assurance Center at Iowa State University, hosts a number of Cyber Defense Competitions every year.


2016 Spring ISU CDC in Coover Hall

Blue Teams during the Spring 2016 CDC

These Cyber Defense Competitions (CDCs) are exciting events put on every year that allow students studying in various areas of information assurance to test their skills.  Student competitors form Blue Teams consisting of four to eight students from their university/institution. They are tasked with providing a variety of services to their network, such as web sites, email, remote desktop, programming environments, and backup services.  Some of these services are provided by the competition directors, but with hidden vulnerabilities.  The competitors have about three weeks to secure all of their services and prepare their networks.  After that, the Red Team is brought in for an eight hour long “attack phase”.  The Red Team consists of security professionals from industry as well as graduate students from Iowa State’s Information Assurance program.  Their job is to try and hack into the Blue Teams’ systems and steal “flags”.  If a Blue Team has one of their flags stolen, they lose points.


The Blue Teams not only have to keep out the Red Team, but also have to provide easy to use services for the Green Team who act as the “end users” of the Blue Teams’ services.  The Green Team members attempt to log on to Blue Team systems, use their email account, browse the Blue Teams’ websites, and more, all while awarding points based on the end-user experience.  The Blue Teams will have to submit documentation to the Green Team as help documentation to guide the users along if they have questions while using the teams’ systems.
Red Team checks out abandon blue team console during the "fire drill"

Red Team checks out an abandoned blue team console during the “fire drill”


During the attack phase the Green Team leader also periodically releases “anomalies,” tasks the Blue Teams may choose to complete for additional points.  These tasks vary in complexity and challenge the Blue Teams to choose which anomalies to complete with the time they have.  Anomalies can involve adding a user, standing up or overhauling a server, and anything in between.  All of these anomalies are designed to simulate real-world IT, where administrators must trade off between security and usability.


Employers have grown to expect quality hires from CDC competitors.  Our alumni have gone on to work at WebFilings, Boeing, Microsoft, Lockheed-Martin, Rockwell Collins, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and just about every federal agency.  These companies often come looking for fresh talent with real-world security experience.


The Cyber Defense Competition pits the industry’s very best against some of the most talented students in the Midwest.  We take all of this excitement and bundle it with unlimited food, drink, and a party atmosphere throughout the event.  We invite you to join us for an experience you’ll never forget.  Sign up today to be part of this eight-hour brawl between the good and bad guys of IT!