On Oct. 22 and 23, two classrooms at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy were transformed to briefing rooms at the National Security Council. Over 60 students from Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke School of Law, and the Pratt School of Engineering participated in the third annual Duke Cyber Cup.
This year in the competition, students played the role of staffers at the NSC faced with a fictional water problem at Fort Meade.
The fictional scenario: Internet connected devices that control the levels of chemicals released into the water were hacked, causing a chemical imbalance that caused numerous people to fall ill.
Not only was this a problem at Fort Meade, but this eventually was confirmed to be a global problem impacting other water treatment facilities.
18 teams of students presented their ideas to a team of judges from Palo Alto Networks, Trellix, Apple, Intel and Duke University who served as the fictional National Security Council staff tasked with advising the U.S. President.
Teams approached the scenario differently, proposing creative and innovative solutions to the problem. The winning undergraduate team of Shayan Kothari, Alex McMillan and Micah Schulman and the winning graduate team of Suher Adi, Hayley Barton and Jeanine Liu each walked away with $2000 thanks to the support of Unit 42 by Palo Alto Networks.
Schulman, a Duke sophomore said, “I didn’t have a lot of hands-on policy experience going into the Cyber Cup. Working on a team to effectively analyze an ongoing cyber situation was completely new to me. However, through the Cyber Cup competition, I realized how much I enjoy analyzing cybersecurity incidents in this way. It was fast-paced, interesting and incredibly rewarding.”
Barton had a similar take when asked about her participation in the Cyber Cup. “The Cyber Cup was a great opportunity to put into action the skills and knowledge I have gained from my tech policy coursework. The scenario and supporting documents required my team to be both creative and rigorous in the solutions we proposed. My group's thinking was definitely stretched by the evolving issues and the judges' hard-hitting questions. Overall, we learned a lot and had a great time!”
The Duke Cyber Cup is a part of the Duke University Cyber Policy Program. The overall program focuses on developing the future leaders in cybersecurity.