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UMGC Selected for National Cyberwatch’s 2020 Innovations in Cybersecurity Education Program

UMGC Selected for National Cyberwatch’s 2020 Innovations in Cybersecurity Education Program

Alex Kasten
By Alex Kasten

Adelphi, Md. (April 3, 2020)—The National Cyberwatch Center, a consortium of higher education institutions, businesses and government agencies focused on advancing information security education, has selected University of Maryland Global Campus for inclusion in its 2020 Innovations in Cybersecurity Education program.

The National Cyberwatch Center based its selection on a concept submitted by Jesse Varsalone, associate professor of Computer Networks and Cybersecurity at UMGC, which allows students to try out for the school’s cybersecurity-competition team using an open-source Capture the Flag (CTF) platform that both facilitates the tryout process and allows current team members to help prospects succeed.

“Being included in the 2020 Innovations in Cybersecurity Education Program means that we can now showcase our program and effective practices to a much larger audience through the National Cyberwatch Center’s publications, blogs, emails and other channels,” said Varsalone.

Under UMGC’s “Cybersecurity Team Tryout” concept, the team coach can set up a server running CTFd and create 10 categories that have 10 questions each. Students earn points by working on cybersecurity challenges in categories such as forensics, network forensics, malware analysis and password cracking. Those who score enough points are automatically added to the UMGC Cybersecurity Team’s active roster.

Students who do not score enough points are given access to resources, such as Netlab, to improve their skills and are encouraged to try out again. As a result, a number of students who did not advance in their initial tryout have been able to join the team on their second or third try.

“The platform allows active team members to monitor and encourage prospective members without providing answers to the puzzle questions, creating an environment where they can give back and propel students onto the team,” said Varsalone.

UMGC cybersecurity competition teams have won numerous regional, national and international competitions, including the Maryland Cyber Challenge, the Cyber DiploHack competition and the gold medal at the 2014 Global CyberLympics.

The National Cyberwatch Center’s Innovations in Cybersecurity Education Awards and Recognition Program is a vehicle for cybersecurity educators to share their advancements and innovations in their programs, accelerate the adoption of new ideas throughout the academic community, and receive proper recognition for their work.

A publication of last year’s Innovations in Cybersecurity program can be found here.