Volgenau School of Engineering
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Mason Competitive Cyber students compete, collaborate, and create a winning experience for all

October 17, 2017   /   by Martha Bushong

For students interested in sharpening their cybersecurity skills, Mason Competitive Cyber offers more than a chance to participate in war games and capture the flag. The organization meets regularly and provides any Mason student who wants hands on cyber experience a chance to learn with fellow students.

“We are trying to cater to beginners as much as we can,” says Michael Bailey, president of MasonCC. The group offers both beginners and advanced sections, and students can self-select which section to join. “I encourage beginners not to get overwhelmed,” says Bailey. Sometimes if you just hang in there and keep working a problem, it starts to click.”

When it’s time to compete, Bailey says they generally stack teams when they are limited in how many teams they can field in the final round.  "If the rules say 'You're only allowed to have two groups from GMU at finals," we're going to ensure it's the best two teams we can form to best represent the university."

At other times they mix all levels together, that way the beginners can participate and learn from more advanced students.

Earlier this month, 18 team members participated in a competition at the Capital One secure facility right here in Fairfax County.

“The event at CapOne was a great opportunity for us. We were onsite in their facility and there were employees on hand operating as floaters. I sat right next to a security analyst who was there working late,” says Bailey. “The moment the competition ended, the networking began.”

Collaboration happens between the competitions when students post problems and share solutions through the online cloud-based tool Slack. “We communicate with each other this way all the time and have an archive of problems and solutions to share with each other,“ says Bailey.

In addition to competitions listed on CTFtime.org we intend to consider events listed on our meetings and competition page. Some events are online and some are in person. The group meets on Wednesdays from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and runs two concurrent sessions.

The students hope to host an event of their own some day and have spoken with the IT Support Center and related student organizations on necessary approvals to have an attack/defense CTF.

The group’s next event is the screening of War Games. The movie starts at 1:30 p.m. in the JC Cinema. For more information go.gmu.edu/wargames.