CS, CIS students place third at pen testing competition

cis students pen testingA team of undergraduate students from The University of Tulsa placed third in the Central Region Collegiate Pen Testing Competition October 7-8 at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri.

TU’s performance builds on the university’s success at similar competitive learning events such as the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition where TU finished second in April. The CPTC focuses on the professional and technical aspects of penetration testing in cybersecurity. Students are required to conduct recon on a network, find vulnerabilities where sensitive data and systems are exposed, demonstrate those weaknesses, prepare a report and present their findings to representatives from a virtual (fictitious) company. The competition treats the activity as a professional endeavor with responsible and ethical guidelines.

TU’s interdisciplinary team included computer information systems majors from the Collins College of Business and computer science students from the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

Kyle Barker, a computer information systems sophomore, said he joined the team as a learning experience. “With my cybersecurity minor, it made sense to learn more about pen testing,” he said. “It was fun to try some of the logins and find that they worked.”

CIS students are trained to analyze the business aspect of technology, and participating in the competition was an effective way for students to apply the concepts they are learning in the classroom.

“I had limited experience in pen testing before the competition,” said computer science sophomore Hannah Robbins. “But I found it is a fun, yet challenging experience that requires a different mindset than I need for my classes at TU.”

Thomas Shaw, a computer science senior, said his favorite part of the competition included working side-by-side with his teammates. They devoted an incredible amount of time to preparation, and all of the students gained experience in the offensive side of cybersecurity.

“I got a good chance to test my skills and get a better look at the life of a consultant in this industry,” Shaw said. “Not only is this a good way to gain experience and build your résumé, it also helps students evaluate whether or not it is something they’re interested in pursuing further.”

Learn more about TU’s participation in competitive cybersecurity events by contacting John Hale, Tandy Professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, at john-hale@utulsa.edu.