Beat to 1337: Creating a Successful University Cyber Defense Organization


A university with no prior CTF experience and no students with significant prior information security experience may find competition a daunting task. Most competitions require a large amount of technical knowledge to set up, along with a fair amount of organization. But how are students with no information security knowledge going to compete in CTF competitions and keep from getting completely owned? Well, the answer is, they’re not. The most important step to successful competition is educating oneself.

In this presentation, we describe our efforts as a team of undergraduate students interested in creating our school’s cyber defense organization and beginning to participate in CTF competitions. We introduce the methodologies that we used (and continue to use) in order to start educating and motivating bright students about information security and keep them interested.

We will use our personal experience and proven successful tactics to outline the necessary steps to take and to expose the commonly overlooked necessities of starting a cyber defense organization, regardless of if you are a student interested in information security, an advisor looking to motivate students, an alumnus looking to share your passion for information security, etc.

Information security education must continue outside the classroom. Although the demand for information security knowledge is high, the requirements are rigid. While the industry is growing very rapidly, students who do not show passion and dedication to the field, and deep practical knowledge will be quickly left behind. We aim to leave you armed and ready to compete with and learn from some of the best and brightest information security students in the world.

Aug 6, 2011
Las Vegas, NV