Collins College of Professional Studies Cyberforce Team beats NYU, Columbia University, and other big name schools, in Regional Department of Energy Cyberforce Competition!

November 27, 2019

A team of St. John’s Cybersecurity students placed 2nd locally and 23rd at the national level at this year’s CyberForce competition! The dynamic team was guided and mentored by Rahul Karnik, associate director, enterprise architecture, systems & security at St. John’s. The group worked efficiently and was able to handle effectively the toughest requirements. Collectively, they spent countless hours and sleepless nights in preparation for this event. Their efforts resulted in well-structured readiness to overcome all that was thrown their way. They impressed many attendees and professionals and received many praises and positive comments on their performance both during and after the competition.  

The Red Team, the hackers and adversaries for this competition, were unable to completely bring down any of the team’s systems for a sustained period of time. The team was able to secure and harden their systems and applications extremely well, leaving the Red Team impressed with their work and level of protection. The only tactic they used against their systems and hosted applications were several (DoS) Denial of Service attacks. Even then, the Cyberforce team did not lose control of their systems and services and remained fully functional and operational during the attacks.  The hackers were unsuccessful in bringing down their environment completely. Derick Naraine, team leader said

“Competing and leading the group in this year’s cyber defense competition hosted by the Department of Energy was a phenomenal experience. Focused and determined, being a part of this year’s CyberForce CDC had improved all aspects of my technical and leadership abilities.”

The Green Team, normal end users and those who posed as C-Level executives, were impressed with the team’s approach, especially with their design and documentation procedures. They also excelled in the CISO panel demonstration. Their presentation of the solution was so thorough that the impressed panel had only one question!

The team did an exceptional job. Isaac Sierra, a student who competed, called the experience “amazing”!

They beat other big name schools such as NYU, Columbia University, United States Military Academy, Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Albany, all located in NY but lost to Northeastern, a well-known powerhouse in collegiate level CDC’s but with little margin.

Professors Suzanna Schmeelk and Professor Erald Troja visited the team during the competition. Dr. Schmeelk noted

“The Brookhaven National Lab experience was exceptionally unique.  Not only did the students have fun, learn a lot and have outstanding performance; but, we all met many BNL field leaders and learned a great deal about the Department of Energy.”  

Thank you to Dean Passerini and Assistant Dean Kevin James for supporting us on this event and to Professor Erald Troja for joining us. A special thanks also to Anne R Pacione, CIO for providing her continuing support. 

Congratulations to the team: Rahul Karnik, Derick Naraine, Bryan Rosado, Martin Guzman, Isaac Sierra, Vincent Monteleone, Hrishikesh Ramprashad, Roshni Shukla, Grace LaMalva, Erald Troja and Suzanna Schmeelk for all of your hard work and dedication!