Frequently Asked Questions
What is the CCDC?
- Collegiate Cyber Defense Competitions (CCDC) are structured contests that allow students of higher education institutions to gain significant experience towards operational competency in managing the challenges inherent to protecting and configuring an enterprise network infrastructure and business information system. CCDC events provide opportunity for students to integrate and apply IT skills in an environment intended to simulate a commercial enterprise network. During the competition students are expected to assume administrative and protective duties, follow directives from competition management while under the duress of malicious activity.
What is CSSIA?
- The Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance (CSSIA) is a National Resource Center (NRC) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CSSIA manages the Midwest Regional CCDC, and provides resources and support for all Midwest CCDC events. Midwest State CCDCs are managed by respective Midwest CCDC State Directors.
What’s different between Midwest State and Regional CCDC, and how are these related to the National CCDC?
- All CCDC events are similar and follow the same core set of national rules. See www.nationalccdc.org under Competitors, and the rules section at www.cssia.org/ccdc. Midwest State CCDCs are qualifying events where winners are eligible to participate in the Midwest Regional CCDC. The winner of the Midwest Regional CCDC is eligible to participate in the National CCDC, competing against winners of other Regional CCDC.
Is the Midwest CCDC affiliated with other cyber competitions such as NetRiders?
- The Midwest CCDCis part of national network of CCDC. Organizations that manage various Regional CCDC cooperate to achieve CCDC goals, and further work with the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS) who manages the National CCDC. The CCDC is not affiliated with other cyber competitions, but several professionals engaged in the management of the CCDC are also active in the National Cyber League (NCL). See www.nationalcyberleague.org
Do students compete individually or in teams? How many students participate on a team?
- Students participate in teams of eightStudents participate in teams of eight.
Who is eligible to participate?
- Competitor eligibility is documented in the rules area of www.cssia.org/ccdc.
Can Part-time students participate in Midwest CCDC?
- While the rules clearly stipulate that only full time students are eligible, some allowance is generally given for Midwest State CCDC qualifying events in order to include part-time students. Such allowance is determined by the respective Midwest State CCDC Director. However, only full time students are eligible for the Midwest Regional CCDC and National CCDC.
Can a team member be substituted in the event of illness or personal issues?
- The rules section of www.cssia.org/ccdc should be consulted. Teams are expected to submit a roster of up to 12 students from which 8 students participate. Teams are free to choose which students participate from their roster, but once a competition starts, no substitutions or changes in team composition may be made.
Can I compete if I’ve already participated in a Midwest CCDC event in a previous year?
- As stated in the CCDC rules, students may participate in the CCDC for five seasons, provided all other eligibility requirements are met. A season is defined as the period of time between the start of the first state event and the completion of the National CCDC event.
Why should I apply? What should I expect to gain by participating in the CCDC? What do I win if I place first?
- Students enrolled in information technology, networking, cyber security, or computer science should apply to participate in the CCDC in order to supplement their education with a competitive experience proven to rapidly advance IT skills and better prepare students for the workplace. Winners receive a recognition award or trophy and qualify to advance to the next round of competition leading to the National CCDC.
How would you describe a CCDC more specifically?
- Midwest CCDC utilize the CSSIA Midwest CCDC Cybersecurity Competition Stadium powered by NDG NETLAB+® accessible via cyberlab.morainevalley.edu. A link is also provided at www.cssia.org/ccdc. Midwest State Directors may elect to use an alternate network, but in either case, each team is provided with a competition network.
- Every CCDC is managed by several people that serve the student team participants. A Chief Judge, working in conjunction with other judges or assistants administer and adjudicate the competition. The judging team sends out directives or injects for a variety of tasks. Teams are required to complete tasks according to the directives and document responses to the judging team. Meanwhile a team of professional penetration testers, the Red Team, launch malicious traffic and attacks against competing teams for which they must defend. Teams are expected to submit incident reports in response to malicious activity. CCDC events are also supported by technical support, automatic scoring expertise, hospitality workers as well as room and compliance monitors.
Who should I contact to obtain additional information?
- See the Midwest CCDC Contact Page
Where are Midwest CCDC events held?
- Each Midwest State CCDC location(s), when determined, should be posted at the respective Midwest State CCDC web site.
What is the duration of the Midwest CCDC?
- The duration of Midwest CCDC varies but generally Midwest State CCDCs are about 8 hours within one day, and the Midwest Regional CCDC is generally about 15 hours over two days.
Are Midwest CCDC events purely academic or similar to traditional classroom instruction?
- Midwest CCDC, like all CCDC, are not academic events. They are directed by a Competition Industrial Advisory Board (CIAB), and judged by professional representatives from industry.
During the competition will I be attacked, and can I launch attacks on other teams?
- You should expect to be attacked by the Red Team made up of professional penetration testers and cyber security experts. All CCDC are acquire and defend contests so that attacks on other teams is prohibited.
How do I apply for the Midwest CCDC? What information is required to apply?
- A link to apply is provided on the www.cssia.org/ccdc site. Only one application per team is needed. The application is self-explanatory, but applicants will need to submit contact information for a team advisor and administrative contact.
Why is an entry fee of $500 required for Midwest State CCDC, and can I get a refund if I later choose not to compete?
- An entry fee of $500 is collected for Midwest State CCDC in order to offset some of the expenses incurred by offering the contest. The Midwest CCDC is intended for serious competitors. No refunds are given for cancellations or ‘no show’. All funds collected for Midwest State CCDC remain within the respective state to support cyber competition activity.
Are there any personal costs involved in participating in the Midwest CCDC?
- Travel cost might be incurred in order to participate in the Midwest State CCDC. Midwest State CCDC winners participating in the Midwest Regional CCDC are expected to travel to the event at their own expense.
Are stipends available to help with expenses?
- Stipends may be given to Midwest CCDC participants depending on corporate sponsorship.
How do I prepare for the CCDC?
- A tips document is available at www.cssia.org/ccdc under Team. Generally, more successful teams form a club at their school and practice competition activities.
Will time be provided to practice on the competition topology?
- The CSSIA Midwest CCDC Cybersecurity Competition Stadium can be made available to student teams in order to practice, become familiar with the Midwest State CCDC environment, and test performance from their institution. Midwest CCDC State Directors may, however, elect to use a different environment for their respective state contest. In either case, State Directors manage practice times and availability.
- Practice time is not made available for the Midwest Regional CCDC.
I’m a high school graduate but not enrolled at a college or university. Can I participate in the Midwest CCDC?
- No – The CCDC is intended for students enrolled in a two or four year college or university. They are official and approved activities of the sponsoring educational institution. All teams must have a team advisor and an administrative contact that approves team participation.
Can I form my own team and do I need a mentor or advisor?
- Students may form a team from fellow classmates, but must have a team advisor and an administrative contact that approves team participation.
Can I get a job at the Midwest CCDC?
- Possibly – Many students bring a resume to the CCDC and are interviewed by representatives from industry. Some students have been hired at CCDC. Regardless, team participants are urged to include CCDC participation on their resume as this is quickly becoming a recognized and positive credential.
What specific information will I be given prior to the Midwest CCDC? Will I be given specific information about hardware, software, and competition topology?
- Practice time will be made available on the CSSIA Midwest CCDC Cybersecurity Competition Stadium for Midwest State CCDC, and a Team Packet will also be provided. State Directors may elect to use a different environment for their respective state CCDC. In either case, practice times and information in the Midwest State CCDC Team Packet is managed by the respective State Director. State Directors will also provide information as to schedule, travel, and necessary forms that need to be submitted.
- For the Midwest Regional CCDC, no practice time will be available, but a Midwest Regional CCDC Team Packet will be available shortly before the event. Midwest State CCDC winners will be provided specific schedule and travel information as well as necessary forms that are needed.
How many teams compete in Midwest CCDC?
- The number of teams participating in Midwest State CCDC varies depending on the number of applicants; every effort is made to accommodate all applicants. The Midwest Regional CCDC will have up to 8 teams.
How are winners determined and how soon after the Midwest CCDC are winners notified?
- Winners are determined by the Chief Judge, either alone or assisted by a team of judges. Winners are determined by a combination of service availability, points accrued from injects and incident reports, with input and results from the Red Team. Winners are announced shortly after the conclusion of the CCDC.
What other resources are available?
- Both www.cssia.org/ccdc and www.nationalccdc.org contain a wealth of information about the CCDC.
Can I take actions within the competition environment that will lock me out? Say we put up firewall rules, access list, etc. that deny all traffic, would we still be able to access the systems? What if we shut off the outside interface of the router?
- The NDG NetLAB+™ system is highly resilient and it is very difficult to lock yourself out. It’s essentially impossible to lock yourself out of the entire system by actions taken within the environment. HOWEVER, password recovery should NOTbe disabled on Cisco devices via the command,
- NO –> (config)#no service password recovery
- Entering this command will result in a scoring penalty.
- It’s also possible to lock out of a Cisco device by changing the baud rate in rommon mode and reset. Naturally specific VMs and even hardware can lock up, but access to the competition environment is still maintained.
About the Competition –
You have just been hired as the network and security administrators at a small company and will be taking administrative control of all information systems. You know very little about the network, what security level has been maintained, or what software has been installed. You have a limited time frame to familiarize yourself with the network and systems and to begin the security updates and patches before the red team starts actively attacking your company. In the midst of all the commotion, you have to keep up with the needs of the business and user demands while maintaining service level agreements for all critical Internet services.
These competitions focus on the operational aspect of managing and protecting an existing “commercial” network infrastructure. Not only do students get a chance to test their knowledge in an operational environment, they will also get a chance to network with industry professionals who are always on the lookout for up and coming engineers. The Midwest CCDC provides a unique opportunity for students and industry professionals to interact and discuss many of the security and operational challenges the students will soon face as they enter the job market. Unlike traditional “hack and defend” or “capture the flag” contests, this competition tests each team’s ability to operate, secure, manage, and maintain a corporate network. This competition is the first to create, as closely as possible, a realistic corporate administration and security experience – giving the competitors a chance to compare their education and training against their peers and the real world challenges that await them. The Midwest Regional CCDC is managed by the National Resource Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance (CSSIA). For information on state operating entities click on your corresponding state to your right.