Newswise — College cyber defenders will spend two days protecting a fictitious nation’s electronic voting system against expert computer hackers at the 2013 National CyberWatch Center Mid-Atlantic Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC), to be held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., April 10-13. The entire four-day event, which also includes a symposium on electronic voting, a job fair for college students, and a high school expo, is free and open to the public.

The CCDC is designed to give students the chance to apply classroom theory and skills to defend against real-time targeted cyberattacks, led by professional security testers (the “red team”), in a controlled, scored setting. Each competition revolves around a compelling, simulated scenario – based on real-world systems such as power grids and health care data networks – that represents the effects of various cyberattacks. This year’s event tasks the college teams with defending simulated electronic voting systems for a fictitious nation that has never before held an election.

“The CCDC really shows these students what it’s like to protect a network from a coordinated, malicious cyberattack,” says Casey O’Brien, director of the National CyberWatch Center at Prince George’s (Md.) Community College. “For two days, they will try to keep voting systems running while our red team throws every trick and hack in the book at them. It’s a phenomenal educational experience that’s also teaching them what it’s like out there in the cybersecurity world.”

“This is the third year CCDC has been at APL, and it’s been a natural partnership between the Laboratory and the National CyberWatch Center,” says Richard M. (Dickie) George, senior advisor for cybersecurity at APL. “We both saw that this was a great chance for research and university organizations to work together to promote cybersecurity awareness. We are excited to once again explore new ways in which academia, government, and industry can collaborate and make a difference in the career choices of young people.”

Eight teams of students from two- and four-year colleges and universities will vie for the mid-Atlantic regional title during the April 12-13 competition: Anne Arundel Community College (Md.), Capitol College (Md.), Craven Community College (N.C.), Millersville University (Pa.), North Carolina State University, Radford University (Va.), University of Maryland at College Park, and University of Maryland University College. The winning team will move on to the National CCDC on April 19-21 in San Antonio.

Events in addition to the competition include a daylong symposium on April 10, featuring four national experts on cybersecurity and electronic voting: Dr. J. Alex Halderman (University of Michigan), Dr. Avi D. Rubin (Johns Hopkins University), Dr. Alan T. Sherman (University of Maryland Baltimore County) and Dr. Dan Wallach (Rice University). On April 11, the CCDC will host a job fair for students at schools within the National CyberWatch Center network, featuring dozens of recruiters from private industry and the government. On April 13, the High School Cybersecurity Fair and Expo will give high school students the chance to see the CCDC in action, and learn more about careers in cybersecurity, certificate and college options, scholarships, and admission processes from on-site college recruiters.

The Mid-Atlantic CCDC, part of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, is coordinated and run by the National CyberWatch Center, an Advanced Technological Education Center funded by the National Science Foundation.

For information on CCDC and the National CyberWatch Center, visit For directions to APL, visit