Zander Work at NW Cyber Camp
Zander Work (right) helps a student at the NW Cyber Camp held at Oregon State University.

A week-long camp to introduce high-school students to cybersecurity was held on the Oregon State University campus last week. Although it was the first time the camp was held in Corvallis, it is the third year the camp has been operating.

The location was not happenstance. NW Cyber Camp co-founder, Zander Work, just completed his freshman year at Oregon State where he made connections with faculty and graduate students in cyber security who helped teach the courses. Instructors also included alumni and other industry representatives from NuScale Power, McAfee, Splunk, NetSPI, Cylance, and PKI Solutions.

“The students were awesome,” Work said. “Everyone was very engaged with the speakers and they asked a lot of good questions.”

The goal of the camp is to get more students interested in the field of cybersecurity which has over 300,000 unfilled job openings, according to Cyber Seek.

“The camp has definitely shown me a lot more opportunities for what I can do in the future with cybersecurity,” said Grace, one of the camp participants. “There are a lot of different fields you can go into like data science, machine learning, ethical hacking, or security work. That’s been really cool to learn about.”

Jayde, another camp participant, already has plans to join the Air Force and focus on cybersecurity.

“I really liked the hands-on activities and learning about real examples of hacking,” Jayde said.

Both students mentioned it was harder than they were expecting, but in a good way.

“The guest speakers have been fantastic. Everyone is knowledgeable and teach at a rigorous enough level that people don’t get bored,” Grace said.

The 20 students at the Oregon State camp came from Corvallis, Albany, Philomath and Lebanon. The camp overall hosted 110 students this summer including sites in Portland, Gresham, Wilsonville, and Bend.

Rakesh Bobba, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and the faculty organizer for the event said, “It was really fun. We would definitely like to host it at Oregon State again, and hopefully expand it to reach more students.”

Students working at NW Cyber Camp
Students working at NW Cyber Camp held at Oregon State University.
photo of Oregon State team
Oregon State took first place at the regional DOE Cyber Defense Competition 2018. Pictured are (left to right) Zach Rogers, Khuong Luu, Hadi Rahal-Arabi, Yeongjin Jang, Devon Streit (DOE), Zander Work, Cody Holliday, and Aidan Grimshaw

A team of six computer science students at Oregon State University competed for the first time and won the regional Department of Energy Cyber Defense Competition held at Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland, Washington.

The competition simulates a real-world situation in which the teams defend a corporate network infrastructure from professional hackers. Each team built a mock infrastructure including a web server, a file server, a database server, email, and other network operations. During the competition, a group of users utilized the services while the hackers launched attacks. The defending teams had to monitor and respond to the cyberattacks throughout the day and were scored on how well they defended their infrastructure and how well they documented what they had done.

The Oregon State team placed first among six teams from the western U.S. at the regional competition, and placed fourth nationally among 29 teams.

“The competition was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun,” said Zander Work, a freshman in computer science who led the team. “The team put in many long nights leading up to the competition to finish hardening our defenses, and it paid off.”

Zander and the other five students who competed — Aidan Grimshaw, Cody Holliday, Khuong Luu, Hadi Rahal-Arabi and Zach Rogers — are all members of the OSU Security Club.

“Although it was a very first time the students participated in such a competition, they did a great job,” said Yeongjin Jang, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering who advised the team. “I was very happy to see the students working hard for an entire month of preparation, not hesitating to tackle difficult tasks, and working well as a team at the competition venue.”