EWU Teams Best Regional Colleges at Cybersecurity Competition

The 2020 Spokane Mayor’s Cup goes to—drumroll please—Eastern Washington University! Not one, but two computer science teams from EWU received honors in the Spokane Mayor’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition.

Spokane Falls Community College hosted 13 teams from regional colleges and high schools in the 2nd annual Mayor’s Cup on Saturday, Feb. 8. It is a “capture the flag” style competition designed to challenge teams to solve computer security problems and capture (i.e., hack) and defend computer systems. The Eastern teams arrived eager to test their hacking skills against neighboring schools.

“We had a great time all around and placing in the top two was definitely a nice bonus,” says Luna Lord, a senior in computer science at Eastern. Lord’s team, appropriately named Extremely Expert Eaggies, placed second, just behind the other Eastern team, Evasively Excellent Eags. That’s right, the two teams from Eastern—and their awesomely alliterate names—took first and second place, winning out over collegiate teams from Gonzaga University, Whitworth University, North Idaho College, Lewis-Clark State College and SFCC.

Team Evasively Excellent Eags: Mamdouh Zayed, Alexander Spichak, Graham Mix and Keith Mateo.

So, what exactly goes on at a cybersecurity competition? We’ll let the experts explain:

“The challenges presented consisted of various problems related to cyber security and hacking,” says Graham Mix, a senior majoring in computer science at Eastern. “That included topics like buffer overflow, integer underflow and performing various injections and attacks.”

“We ended up finishing a very difficult challenge that had two of our team members writing a tool for a couple hours to solve it,” adds Lord. “They turned in the flag with five minutes to spare. We were all pumped up right as it ended!”

Team Extremely Expert Eaggies: Chelsea Rickman, Stephanie Russell, Vernice Keyes and Daylyn Hoxie. (Not pictured, Luna Lord)

The competition played out in six different categories: Teams received points each time they “captured” a flag in one of them. Some of the team members received some valuable practice when they took part in a similar capture the flag competition the week before in the EWU Cybersecurity Club. Organizations and friendly competitions like these help Eastern computer science students hone their cyber skills.

“I’ve wanted to participate in a competition like this for a while now,” says Mix. “I may now join a club or two related to this stuff.”

And up next for Lord? She’ll lead an all-women team from Eastern named Bits Please in an online National Cyber League competition in April.

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