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UMGC Advances to Mid-Atlantic Cyber Defense Competition Finals

Alex Kasten
By Alex Kasten
  • News |
  • Cybersecurity

Adelphi, Md. (Feb. 28, 2024) -- The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) cybersecurity competition team kicked off 2024 by advancing to the regional finals of the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (MACCDC). UMGC is one of 10 teams that earned an invitation to compete in the regional finals at Prince Georges Community College in Largo, Maryland, on March 22-23.

“The MACCDC event is one of the most challenging competitions that we compete in,” said Jesse Varsalone, collegiate associate professor of cybersecurity technology at UMGC and academic advisor of the cyber competition team. “Students must successfully complete many real-world challenges, such as configuring and securing an IT infrastructure.”

The qualifying event, a virtual round held on Jan. 20, included 24 teams from 22 regional colleges and universities. In the blue-team style competition, teams raced to keep live attackers out of their networks. They removed malware, hardened their systems, and secured their infrastructure using best practices they learn in their respective cybersecurity programs. 

The UMGC team joined other nine teams from the mid-Atlantic region in advancing to the MACCDC finals: University of Virginia, Liberty University, Messiah University, Penn State University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, George Mason University, Rutgers University, Virginia Tech and Rowan College of Burlington County.   

The UMGC team was split among undergraduate and graduate students. Team captain Aidan Bennett was joined by five other undergraduates: Noah Duran, Michael Gronau, Stephen Musco, Eduardo Figueroa and Jasleen Chawla. Graduate students on the team were Morgan Morgan and Joel Francis, along with four alternates: Rebecca Mollohan, Lucas Jones, Hugo Concha and Michael Hodge.

The winner of the Mid-Atlantic regional event in March will advance, along with the other seven regional first-place team from across the country, to compete in the national finals in Anaheim, California, on April 27–30. 

Established in 2012, the UMGC cybersecurity team is composed of students, alumni and faculty who compete regularly in digital forensics, penetration testing and computer network defense scenarios that help them gain experience to advance their cybersecurity careers. To prepare for competitions, students detect and combat cyberattacks in the university’s Virtual Security Lab and work through case studies in an online classroom.

The UMGC team, which recently moved into third place in the Hack the Box rankings among U.S.-based teams, has earned numerous honors throughout its history, including championships in local, national and international competitions. In addition to several top-three finishes in the Maryland Cyber Challenge, UMGC won the gold medal in the 2014 Global CyberLympics and took first place in 2015 in the inaugural DiploHack competition sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. UMGC also won a Silver Award in the 2016 National Cyber Analyst Challenge and finished third in the 2022 Maritime and Control Systems Cybersecurity Con Hack the Port competition.