A team of Bournemouth University (BU) students made it to the final of the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition run by Rochester Institute of Technology.
The final was the culmination of the world’s largest offensive-based collegiate cyber security competition and was run virtually through Rochester Institute of Technology over the course of a weekend earlier in January.
The BU team came first at the European regional competition in autumn 2020 which secured their place at the finals. The regional events saw more than 500 cybersecurity students compete for a place at the final.
The top 15 teams who went on to compete at the final represented some of the best cyber security students in the world. The BU team were the only team from a UK university to make it to the final and they went up against teams from universities including Stanford University, University of California and Carnegie Mellon University.
The competition helps students build and hone the skills needed for a job in the cyber security industry — an industry that currently has a severe shortage of qualified professionals.
During the competition, students spent two days attempting to break into a mock company’s computer network, evaluate its weak points and offer plans to better secure it. The competition allowed students to experience a day in the life of a penetration tester—the security professionals hired to test and evaluate an organisation’s computer systems and networks to ensure that malicious hackers can’t get in.
Student Rajiv, who lead the BU team, said: “We competed in the European regional of the competition and placed first which secured our spot in the final. It was especially good for us as it was the first time they've run a regional in Europe.
“In the final, we were up against people who've competed twice previously, with teams from really prestigious universities and we still placed in the middle of the competition.”
Rajiv explained the best part of the experience: “We got to gain skills working from the perspective of a real consultant. Hands down the best part was the realism, with confidential business information being hidden and real-time activity happening while we hacked in.
“The competition organisers went to painstaking lengths to make it as realistic as possible - with over 50 fake users, an internal company chat, social media profiles for the employees and more.
“We had to liaise with the company's head of IT during the process, which tested our professional skills managing clients and we actually got an honorable mention for in the awards ceremony for our professionalism in this aspect.
“It was also good to meet so many people all interested in security – there were some great networking opportunities.”
To find out more about studying cyber security at BU, visit the BSc Cyber Security Management course page.