TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) – Students from across the country are taking part in the Southwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition this weekend at the University of Tulsa learning real-life skills to protect against cyberhacking.
Cybersecurity still remains one of the most underemployed fields. Right now, there is a need for trained cybersecurity talent.
Michaela Conn and Mallory Powers are both on the University of Tulsa Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition team.
“It’s been a little tough,” said Conn. “Right from the beginning, it’s hit the ground running.”
“It’s really kind of hectic and crazy,” said Powers.
Their job here is simple: protect their assigned “companies” from cyber threats.
“The CEO walks in the door and asks you why specific things are down and you may not have all the answers, but you have to come up with something,” said Powers.
The threats are unleashed by the “Red Team” aka hackers, like Tim Malcomvezter.
“We give them some real world, realistic offense to their defense they have to create, so they have to think about what it takes to keep the network secure,” Malcomvezter said. “What it takes to keep the network up, to keep their customers happy because they have simulated customers and bosses who come in and mess with them, and we just keep the pressure high.”
If they do well, Brett Scarborough said they could land a solid job at a top security company like Raytheon.
“This will immolate real-world problems they’ll see when they go into their jobs,” Scarborough said. “They go through some really tough challenges in protecting these networks from some pretty advanced hackers.”
Conn and Powers said they know it is a field dominated by men but it isn’t stopping them.
“I think I’ll see that, as I go into the career field, that it will be more male-dominated, which will be an adjustment, but it is also a great opportunity,” Conn said. “There’s always going to be jobs; it’s always going to be changing. That’s one thing that I love about it.”
The teams will be judged on how well they are able to protect their company.
The competition will continue Saturday. Awards will be given out on Sunday.