NYU’s team of Cyber Fellows reaped awards at the 2019 CyberForce Competition

The Cyber Raptors took 3rd place in regional competition

cyber raptor team members at Brookhaven Lab

From November 15-16, NYU Cyber Fellows students, enrolled in the intensive online cybersecurity program, made their way as part of a crack team named the NYU Cyber Raptors to Long Island to take part in the fifth annual Department of Energy’s (DOE) CyberForce Competition.

The 2019 CyberForce Competition is the latest in a series that DOE began in 2016 to help train the next generation of cybersecurity experts in the energy sector. Co-hosted for the second time by DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, NYU Tandon School of Engineering was one of seven schools participating from the East Coast, competing against each other and against teams located at nine other DOE labs across the country. NYU Tandon’s Cyber Raptors placed 35th overall out of the 104 nationwide teams and 3rd out of the northeast regional teams.

Teams were tasked with the security of one of four infrastructures: Solar Energy Generation Facility, Energy Distribution Substation, High Performance Computing Data Center and Manufacturing Facility. While each team had to keep their specific infrastructure up and secure, they were also charged with connecting and communicating with the other three types of infrastructure throughout the competition. Such a model simulates real-world scenarios where channels are interdependent of one another.

The Cyber Raptors were assigned the High Performance Computing Data Center and developed and tested infrastructure they created two weeks prior to the competition. After last-minute preparation on Friday the 15, the Cyber Raptors along with the other teams at Brookhaven Lab put their designs to the test during the eight-hour-long competition.

The DOE competition involved four teams: a blue team (college students) tasked with ensuring proper IT support, a red team (cybersecurity experts) whose mission was to actively attack the blue team's infrastructure in order to disrupt the availability and usability of the system, a green team (end users) that tested the usability and availability of the blue team’s systems and a white team (national lab and cybersecurity industry staff) who served as administrators and architects of the competition. The white team also injected anomalies (optional puzzle-like activities for bonus points) into the network infrastructure and judged the overall competition.

Paola Garcia Cardenas, an NYU Tandon graduate student studying Cybersecurity, who participated in this CyberForce Competition as well as the previous year’s, was extremely proud of her team.

“Last year was the first time NYU competed at the DOE CyberForce competition and we really did not know what to expect,” Cardenas said. “This year's NYU Team, the Cyber Raptors, had a good mix of skills as well as participants from the Cyber Fellows cohort 1 and cohort 2. We spent 20+ hours working together (online through video conference) and preparing for the competition. The DOE CyberForce team put together an amazing team and helped with preparation materials and documentation, and this year, in my opinion, their documentation as well as our experience from last year made a huge difference.”

Anna de la Rosa
BS, Media, Culture, and Communication
Class of 2021