Maryland Air Guardsmen Support Cyber Defense Competition

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Enjoli Saunders
  • 175 PA

Members assigned to the 275th Cyber Operations Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, participated in the 14th Annual Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Regional Finals, March 29, 2019 at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md. The 275th COS has participated in the competition for over four years in different capacities. Each year all participants are divided into three teams with specific responsibilities.

This year, MDANG members were part of the white team that served as competition officials. Their responsibilities included observing and evaluating college teams’ performance as well as enforcing event rule compliance as presented by the National Cyber Watch Center. Additionally, they acted as liaisons for rule disputes or event protests and provided team guidance for problem solving. The blue teams consisted of the competing college teams and the red team consisted of cyber defense professionals acting as external hackers attempting to gain unauthorized access to competition teams’ systems.

“The white team doesn’t require as much technical knowledge as some of the other teams, said Airman 1st Class Gabriella Smith, 275th Cyber Operations Squadron, cyber surety technician. “Considering I am new to this field and just beginning to learn about cyber – its eye opening. This competition gives me the opportunity to network with other cyber defense professionals in the field that possesses a wide array of experience from service members to private corporations.”

The competition is a volunteer event that provides students and career field professionals hands-on application of cyber defense and offense techniques. Academic and government specialists, as well as business industry experts, donate time and resources to create a heightened educational experience for the event.

“One of the most rewarding experiences from participating is not only being able help hone skills, but, also to show eager students in the field there are opportunities doing what they love in public service,” said 1st Lt. John Tibbetts, 275th Cyber Operations Squadron, cyberspace warfare officer. “Given the increasing importance of the cyber domain, being able to mentor the next generation is invaluable. For new airman, this competition reinforces their zeal by validating training. I hope schedules will align and MDANG will be able to support red team and white team next year.” 

The competition has been held every year since 2006. The 2019 competition began with 347 players from different colleges competing with only six teams making it to the regional finals. The winning team of the regional competition was from the University of Virginia.