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Tech cyber security team earns spot at cyber defense regionals

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Louisiana Tech University’s Cyber Defense Team will spend March 18-20, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, competing against the top teams from universities throughout Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas in the Southwest Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC).

The eight student team, led by co-captains Joseph Siharath (Cyber Engineering senior from Shreveport), Kevin Oubre (Cyber Engineering junior from Baton Rouge), and Stuart Redfearn (Computer Science senior from Metairie) and coached by Dr. Brad Glisson (Associate Professor of Computer Science), earned their spot at regionals by winning a qualifying round in early February.

Siharath, Oubre, and Redfearn, along with John Mascagni (Computer Science senior from Baton Rouge), Joshua Iselin (Cyber Engineering junior from Cypress, Texas), Alex Petty (Cyber Engineering senior from New Orleans), Megan Cox (Cyber Engineering senior from Benton), and Brandon Vessel (Cyber Engineering senior from Ruston), will use the technical and business skills they’ve learned at Louisiana Tech to manage and protect simulated corporate network infrastructure for the competition.

For the competition, they will perform routine maintenance, such as changing client passwords and updating servers, maintain critical services for the simulated business, and protect their network team of dedicated volunteers from the information security industry that will attempt to hack into the systems.

The team will prepare for the regional competition in the same way they prepared for the qualifying round, practicing simulating cyber security scenarios, developing a plan, and assigning roles to each team member to ensure that each member is responsible for tasks that most closely match their expertise.

“I am delighted to be the faculty coach for the team, and we are looking forward to the competition,” Glisson said.

Oubre and Siharath say that in addition to lessons from courses, participating in Tech’s Cyber Storm, an annual hackfest during which participant teams attack competing teams’ networks while defending their own, has helped them and their teammates learn to communicate in high-stress situations like they will face in the CCDC.

The team is developing techniques based on their experiences in Cyber Storm and situations they’ve encountered through the CyberBit Cyber Range that is available to students and faculty in Tech’s Cyber Engineering program.

“Louisiana Tech has prepared me to effectively do risk management with a risk assessment class that I took,” Siharath said. “The Incident Response class taught me how to properly respond to incidents and how to manage and work in a security operations center which is what the competition partially simulates.”

“What I am most looking forward to is not just competing but meeting the organizers, volunteers, and other competitors,” Oubre added. “With last year’s competition and this year’s qualifiers being fully remote, I am excited to meet all these amazing people in person.”

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