YES, it’s that time of the year when we get to root for our alma mater or our favorite college competing in what some would say is the “king of sporting events”: The U.S. Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC). This year, the Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Academy will be supporting all 10 regional competitions and the national competition through the in-kind donation of both our hardware and virtual firewall appliances.
The National Collegiat Cyber Defense Competitions asks student teams to assume administrative and protective duties for an existing “commercial” network – typically a small company with 50+ users, 7 to 10 servers, and common Internet services such as a web server, mail server, and e-commerce site. Each team,, consisting of 5-8 students, begins the competition with an identical set of hardware and software and is scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, maintain availability of existing services such as mail servers and web servers, respond to business requests such as the addition or removal of additional services, and balance security needs against business needs. Throughout the competition, an automated scoring engine is used to verify the functionality and availability of each team’s services on a periodic basis and traffic generators continuously feed simulated user traffic into the competition network. A volunteer red team of professional penetration testers provide the “external threat” all Internet-based services face and allows the teams to match their defensive skills against live opponents.
To prepare for competition season, the Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Academy team has been busy helping the regional CCDC competition sites deploy our firewall appliances, so competing teams can use them to defend their competition networks. In addition, the Academy team has developed a CCDC Preparation online course, where competing teams can access all the latest training documents and videos to learn how to configure our firewall appliances to defend their networks using best practices. We also collaborated with the Network Development Group (NDG) to provide CCDC competing teams free online access to our firewall lab pod, so teams are able to have hands-on experience configuring our firewall appliance before the competition begins.
The first regional competition, the Western Regional (WRCCDC), took place at Coastline College in Garden Grove, California this past weekend. The team from Stanford University took first place with City College of San Francisco and the University of California Irvine taking second and third place respectively.
The Stanford team, along with the winner of the remaining nine regional competitions, will
compete at the National CCDC for the national championship. This year the National CCDC will occur on April 23-25 in Orlando, Fla. Representatives from our Cybersecurity Academy and Technical Delivery teams will be at all 10 regionals and the National CCDC. They will provide technical advice to the competition teams, information about Palo Alto Networks jobs/college internship opportunities and information about our great Cybersecurity Academy program. Go team!