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Cyber war on campus

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Cyber war on campus
By: Arnold Wyrick

CARBONDALE, Il. - In today's technology-driven world, having a good security system is vital to keeping your information flowing.  But, it takes skilled computer-wizards, and up to date software to have a fighting chance against viruses, and hackers.

Some of the best college students in the Heartland are teaming up on the Southern Illinois University campus this weekend, in Carbondale, to test their skills in a cyber-war.

During the 3-day event, teams will fight for bragging rights and a chance to advance in the Illinois Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

"They're given a system and they are supposed to harden it.  At the same time they receive 'business inject.'  So they have to make sure that the business critical information is still working, everything is functioning, while they're under attack," says Belle Woodward of SIU's College of Applied Science & Arts.

The seven member teams from five Illinois colleges have one hour to figure out their systems, and brace themselves for the onslaught from 'hackers' with SAVVIS.

"Basically what they don't secure, we own!  And we'll find out very soon how much of that stuff there is out there," says Mark Buchanan.

It's a tense time in the computer labs as teams log on, and begin downloading software they hope will help them when the war.

"I want to put a firewall on the Cisco system, so everything is blocked but these four services.  That will help us on the big port scans and  stuff that they're probably going to attack first," says Chris Wilkerson team leader, for the Illinois State University team.

Fingers begin dancing across the keyboards as team-members prepare for the first wave of attacks.  This is no friendly competition.

"If they don't harden, or have the right measures in place they can expect a denial of services.  They can also expect a number of security breaches," Woodward said.

Some of the winning team members could eventually be hired by the FBI, Homeland Security or a number of international companies that have representatives, keeping a close eye on the competition.

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