Students defend their computer networks

AMES, Iowa - Teams of Iowa State University students will be up all night trying to fight off hackers and impress judges.

The first Cyber Defense Competition at Iowa State will stretch 27 hours from 6 p.m. Friday, April 22, to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 23. The competition will be in Suite 2105 of Building Two at the Iowa State University Research Park at 2625 North Loop Drive in Ames. The competition is free and open to the public.

Six teams of six students are registered for the competition. They will be asked to develop a computer network for a fictional small Iowa college. They'll have to make sure the network allows a team of users to check e-mail, browse the Internet and do other computer work during the competition. They'll also have to defend their networks from a team of attacking computer professionals from Ames and Des Moines. And they'll have to do all that as a team of judges watches every move.

The lowest score wins the competition. Each team starts with 0 points. When there are security breakdowns, judges will tack on points. When students keep their networks protected, judges will make deductions.

And why will they be doing this all night long?

"Hackers don't stop," said Doug Jacobson, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who will be leading the competition's team of judges. He also said the students wanted a marathon of a competition.

The winners will earn a $100 gift certificate at the Iowa State University Book Store and their names will be displayed on a permanent plaque.