UVA team wins third-consecutive cybersecurity championship

UVA team wins third-consecutive cybersecurity championship
A UVA Team has won a third consecutive cyber defense title. (Source: Fullstack Academy)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia won top prize at this year’s National Collegiate Cyber Defense Championship.

It’s the team’s third title in a row, a feat only done once before in the competition’s 14 year history. The team, representing the UVA Engineering Department of Computer Science, overcame 10 other finalists and the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the championship to be held virtually for the first time ever.

“UVA is the national number one, so I’m so proud of this kind of big achievement," the team’s faculty advisor Yonghwi Kwon said. "It shows that I think the team is evolving every year with the different challenges.”

Being online for the competition led to some major changes to the way the team prepared and executed in the event.

“In a normal year, this would be we’d be meeting in person. We’d have all these different computer systems, and then they bring in professional attackers to attack our student teams," Windows Team Lead Jake Smith explained.

“This year we had to sort of figure out what that meant for us, because we’re sharing notes virtually,” Team Captain Maggie Gates said. “So, like a Google Drive, and Google Documents, shared that way.”

In the championship, the team worked to defend a fictional auto parts company moving its business online due to COVID-19. The scenario added a dose of reality to the competition.

“Forcing us to sort of go through the motions that everybody else right now is going through as they secure their remote work life which was really awesome," Gates explained.

While the scenario may have been fictional, the skills they were using was very real...and represent a very real need in the modern world.

“I think our team is really thankful for the opportunity we were able to get through this competition," Linux Team Lead Roman Bohuk said.

The question for the team is what happens next year. Gates, Smith, and Bohuk will all be moving on; Smith and Bohuk had been with the team since it was founded.

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