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February 26, 2019

UCI Advances in Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

In only its second year competing in the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC), UCI advanced to the Western Regional Championship (WRCCDC), which will be held March 1-2. The UCI team, led by senior Orbel Golanians, placed fourth out of 21 teams at the WRCCDC qualifier, earning the top spot of the UC schools competing.

“My reaction when I first heard the news was pure joy and excitement,” says Golanians, who is majoring in informatics and is thrilled to be a part of this team, comprised of eight members of the Cyber@UCI club and funded by the Cybersecurity Policy and Research Institute (CPRI). “We are all enthusiastic about the field of cybersecurity, and competing at the next level allows us to experience challenges that will push us to learn more.”

The UCI CCDC team: (clockwise from left) Aaron Stein, Micah Raney, Morgan Ling, David Parra, Orbel Golanians, Shawn Hill, Rachel Weber and Jeanelle Guardado.

During the competition, teams must detect outside threats, maintain service availability, respond to business requests and balance both security and business needs. According to Golanians, the team was well prepared for the challenges thanks to its dedicated coaches, Immunant co-founder and CTO Stephen Crane and MeridianLink security specialist Howard Chen, both alumni from UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. “The team greatly benefited from a coaching staff that believed in us,” says Golanians.

Chen, who competed as a senior last year, is happy to help, noting the unique opportunities CCDC presents by simulating a real-world business environment. “It’s not just a competition about cybersecurity; it’s a competition to run the best corporate cybersecurity team,” he explains. “No other competition has the teams working to protect their network from hackers while writing reports for the CEO and maintaining server uptime. It makes CCDC stand out from everything else out there.”

This year’s team is grateful for its coaches and for the funding it received from CPRI, and everyone is excited to move on to the next level and tackle new cybersecurity challenges. “We’re representing UCI at the regional level for the first time ever!” says Golanians. “This new opportunity allows us to see our endless commitment pay off, and we are determined to continue to work hard.”

Shani Murray

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