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UCM cybersecurity team ranks nationally at competition

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WARRENSBURG — Demonstrating the quality of students’ academic preparation and skill in the area of cybersecurity, a team of University of Central Missouri students was recently ranked in the top one percent of college and university teams participating in the National Cyber League fall 2021 competition.

In an event that evaluated student cybersecurity teams on nine different criteria, UCM finished 37th out of 3,910 teams nationwide. 

The university has competed every semester in NCL competitions since fall 2018. 

Since finishing in the top 30 percent during that first event, the team has continuously improved its standing and with this recent finish, it continued its upward trek from its placement among the top 2.7 percent of teams during the spring 2021 semester.

“The rank is a good indicator to see how our students perform in a short term, but for me making continuous improvement is more important in a long term,” Hyungbae Park, coordinator of the cybersecurity program, said. “This proves that we have a good system – faculty and facility – to train and foster our students’ [success].”

Park said the NCL is one of the major cybersecurity competitions in which students can gain experience applying their cybersecurity knowledge to solve real-world problems. 

The competition is built around learning objectives and helps participants to further their understanding of the field. 

It includes two practice challenges and two main challenges for students at the individual and team level.

“I am glad to see our team is making good progress since Fall 2018,” Park said. “I’ve enjoyed watching our students grow. I really appreciate our students going the extra mile as consistent hard work is required to be a good performer in NCL competition.”

UCM’s team placement in the event was based on an evaluation in the following categories: Open Source Intelligence, Cryptography, Password Cracking, Log Analysis, Network Traffic Analysis, Forensics, Scanning and Reconnaissance, Web Application Exploitation and Enumeration and Exploitation. 

Each category gives a series of challenges and each challenge has different difficulty levels – easy, medium and hard, Park said. 

The harder the challenge, the more points a team scores. 

UCM offers undergraduate programs in Cybersecurity and Information Technology, as well as a graduate program in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance within the School of Computer Science and Mathematics. 

The university is one of only a small number of institutions nationwide to offer a cybersecurity undergraduate program that is accredited by ABET. 

To learn more about these programs and the NCL competition, visit ucmo.edu/college-of-health-science-and-technology/school-of-computer-science-and-mathematics or contact Park at 660-543-8921 or park@ucmo.edu. 

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