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Cybersecurity Team Competes in RIT Ethical Hacking Tournament

(l-r) Kate Boekweg, Jonathan Wilson, Ian Cook, TJ Andrewsen, Justin Applegate and Ethan Carter
(l-r) Kate Boekweg, Jonathan Wilson, Ian Cook, TJ Andrewsen, Justin Applegate and Ethan Carter

After placing second in their region and ranking in the top 15 teams nationally, five members of BYU’s Cybersecurity program traveled to Rochester, NY to compete in an RIT-sponsored ethical hacking tournament.

The preparation from RIT for the event was evident, as they “put countless hours into developing backstories, materials, and an environment to give us as real-life of an experience as possible.”

Speaking on the outcome of the experience, Ian Cook, Co-Founder of BYU’s Cyberia CTF Team, explained that “one lesson we learned was just the importance of working as a team to translate technical findings from a technical perspective to the business impact of it.”

Tom Kopchack, CTC director of the event, shared the following about the tournament in an interview with 13 WHAM ABC:

“One of the things we’re trying to teach students here is, you’re not hacking to cause financial harm, damage to an organization, you are hacking to make things better. And if you can fix those problems before someone who has malicious intent does that, we’re gonna make the world a better place.”

After exceeding expectations in penetration testing engagement, BYU’s Cybersecurity team won the award for using the most cutting-edge exploit in their efforts.

One of Cook’s favorite moments from the tournament came after the teams in attendance were tasked with testing the security of a locked safe in three different ways. In a humorous manner for a hacking event, our team opened the safe the final way by “jamming a metal straw through a hole in the safe and manually forcing a password reset.”

As the team flew back to Utah and returned to their usual coursework, Cook had a chance to reflect on the Cybersecurity program and its success.

“Our professors are fantastic in encouraging us as students to pursue real life cybersecurity experience through competitions… The wide breadth of knowledge we get from our coursework helped build a foundation that prepared us for the wide variety of challenges that we faced.”