When it comes to network security, everyone is great until they at it when there are no issues. However, what truly sets people apart in this major, and the field, is handling stressful situations and making the right decisions. Part of the nature of security is the value shines through during a crisis. If you want to read the Red team's perspective (the team that causes the chaos in a competition) you can read more here.
This year I am very fortunate to lead a team that not only excels in preventing something going wrong but is also agile and quick to recover after something goes wrong. In my opinion, that's the driving force behind our recent success in the Western Regionals.
One feature our team works well through is being prepared and always having a backup plan. During the competition we encountered difficult obstacles and our scores were significantly rewarded due to measures put in place to migrate damage. This is a result of the lessons learned from the last invitational that we took part in. Having a backup plan in this case is more difficult than it sounds because once you are in the competition you want to use as much time to be ahead and it can be difficult to scratch what you're doing and fall into a backup plan.
While Red team is the team that actively breaks into your network, an even scarier team is the Black team. Black team sets up the network environment we work with for the duration of the competition. The catch is that the network is not also set up with security in mind and can be very vulnerable to the attacks Red team uses. We found many of the configurations on the virtual machines completely nullified for our secure configurations. Our method for finding these miss configurations was good but we are working on improving our methods before the Regional Finals in March.
Working with the UAT team during the qualifier was also a lot of fun and I feel our communication has been good considering the chaotic environment that is CCDC. Communication is important because plenty of the services on the network were dependent on other computers. So, problem solving required team work in order to successfully maintain the environment. CCDC is also meant to be a stress test which required everyone to work well under pressure.
The team is excited about our first place finish in the qualifier. With us being the only Arizona team still alive, we are going to do our best to represent our state. This all wouldn't be possible without the guidance and teaching of our mentors and professors at UAT, and I'm honored to be a part of a team with such intelligent people. While I am nervous, I am looking forward to the Regional Final next month and all the chaos that it entails.