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ODU Cybersecurity Team Places Sixth at Virtual International Competition

A team of Old Dominion University graduate students placed sixth in a recent virtual Cyber/12 international competition based in Geneva, Switzerland, narrowly missing out on advancing to the final rounds.

The competition tasked participants with developing policy recommendations when taking on fictional, but realistic, cyber catastrophes. Judges came from a diverse array of professional firms and government agencies across the world.

ODU's team, Everything Blue, consisted of Warren Marcelino, Nicolai Cockrill and Xavier-Lewis Palmer. Saltuk Karahan, instructor in the Department of Political Science and Geography and program coordinator in the School of Cybersecurity, served as the team's coach.

The Geneva competition was dominated by European universities, and only one U.S. institution - the University of Texas at Austin - ranked above ODU. ETH Zürich won the event.

The Monarch team finished ahead squads composed of players from Oxford and the London School of Economics; Carnegie Mellon; King's College London; and Uppsala (Sweden) University.

The ODU team earned a spot in the Geneva competition with its performance at a Washington, D.C.-based competitionin March.

Cyberattacks such as the one that disrupted the Atlantic Pipeline in May highlight the need for cybersecurity experts. For the past three years, ODU has had a group of cybersecurity and international studies students at the undergraduate and graduate levels training to handle major cybersecurity crises and develop multinational responses.

The Cyber 9/12 competitions, hosted by NATO's Atlantic Council, help to evaluate the team's capabilities. ODU teams have had to secure the 2020 U.S. Census from Russian influence, stop Iranian state actors from disrupting the world's economy by affecting maritime trade, and secure the European Union's health-care infrastructure that was on the verge of collapse from COVID infections, then coming under cyberattacks.

"As our physical world becomes more interconnected, cyberattacks will affect our daily lives," Karahan said. "The question that should come to mind is who is responsible for stopping cyberattacks and what goes on behind the scenes to restore these critical services we depend on? This is where ODU is developing future leaders to handle the escalating cyber crisis, utilizing multidisciplinary actions that leverage both the technology and government and private policies to stop the attack and the chain reaction of events that follow."

For more information about the competition, contact Marcelino at wmarceli@odu.edu, Karahan at skarahan@odu.edu, or the Cyber Security Student Association at cs2a@odu.edu. Inquiries about entry in ODU's cybersecurity master's program can be directed to Hongyi Wu, director of ODU's School of Cybersecurity, at h1wu@odu.edu.

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