Students from the University of Idaho’s Idaho Falls campus were celebrating Saturday after taking first place locally in the 2019 Department of Energy CyberForce Competition held at Idaho National Laboratory.

The students were the top local team in the national competition that took place at 10 national laboratories across the country. The competition challenged 105 collegiate teams to build a simulated energy infrastructure and defend it from a series of cyberattacks.

“CyberForce brings teams together to protect against tomorrow’s threats, a uniquely American approach to problem solving,” said Energy Secretary Rick Perry, “congratulations to this year’s winners and a big thanks to all the bright students who participated.”

The competition, which aims to inspire and develop the next generation of energy sector cybersecurity professionals, is co-funded by the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER); Office of Electricity; Office of Science; Office of the Chief Information Officer; Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy; and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

This year’s event challenged teams to defend one of four realistic system scenarios — an energy company’s solar generation facility, electric substation, high performance computing center, or manufacturing plant — while communicating with the other three infrastructures to monitor and maintain the integrity of the system as a whole. Each team was scored on its ability to safeguard against attacks while ensuring the system’s usability.

“Every year, the CyberForce Competition attracts more and more talented students,” said Karen S. Evans, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response, “and with the expansion to address professional recruitment, the competition will only continue to grow. We envision this competition to be a tool to assist our sector to close skills gaps and shortage of cybersecurity experts.”

Of the 105 collegiate teams competing in the event, nine teams — including the University of Idaho- Idaho Falls — were hosted at INL. The other participating laboratories were Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

In addition to the University of Idaho-Idaho Falls, other student teams participating at INL today included Boise State University, Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Idaho State University, LDS Business College, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the University of Utah, and the University of Wyoming.

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