Carleton Hosts and Wins Cybersecurity Challenge

By Ellen Tsaprailis
Photos from Sonia Chiasson

Four Carleton University undergraduate students won this year’s CyberSCI-Ottawa Cyber Security Mayor’s Challenge Cup.

Named hack.carleton, the winning team competed against Ottawa area university and college undergraduate students in a realistic cyber breach simulation with hands-on participation and analysis.

Second-year Computer Science major Aaron Ramos-Lazette was part of hack.carleton that included Brandon Marshall, Stuart Gibb and Indiana Moreau. Two other team members are in Computer Science as well and one is in Engineering.

“The entire event was about more than just skill,’’ says Ramos-Lazette. “After each event, we collectively spent time discussing how we completed the tasks, so those who had trouble with it were able to take something away from it. The difficulty scaled as the challenges went along, which provided an excellent flow for those who might be relatively new to cybersecurity, vulnerabilities and threat protection.”

According to Canada Research Chair Sonia Chiasson, the Cyber Security Challenge is interesting because it has two parts—the students compete to win the Mayor’s Cup in the morning and then, in the afternoon, the top students get to interview with the sponsoring organizations for a chance at paid cybersecurity internship opportunities.

“Four internship job offers were made,” says Chiasson of the November 18 challenge. “Other offers are coming in the next few days. This gives students a chance to gain real-world, hands-on experience with cybersecurity teams. Several students who had internships last year were there and commented on how it had been a great experience for them.”

Carleton had two teams compete in the challenge and Chiasson says the teams were formed about two months ago with the students practicing and preparing ahead of time.

Team participating were required to recon a vulnerable computer network, break through the cyber defences, take control of the systems, and advise the company on how to defend against cyberattacks.

“The challenge itself is a learning opportunity,” explains Chiasson. “Points are awarded for teams who manage to solve the problem, but then there’s discussion of the solution and everyone has a chance to catch up before moving on to the next step.  Mentors from the sponsoring organizations are constantly walking around the room, talking with students, answering questions, and seeing how each team tackles the challenge. The students are working hard, but also having fun trying to solve the puzzles.”

This is the second year that the Cybersecurity Challenge has been held at Carleton.