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Cyber Defense Team Heads to Midwest Regionals

NKU Outscores Kentucky and Ohio Teams in Combined Competition
Cyber Defense Team

March 8, 2018- Northern Kentucky University’s Cyber Defense Team continues its dominance in the region, winning the Kentucky Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition and outscoring Ohio’s top team. After beating a formidable University of Louisville team in the combined Kentucky/Ohio competition, NKU now moves on to the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (MRCCDC).

The Cyber Defense Team is made up of tech-savvy students from the College of Informatics Computer Science Department. Dr. Yi Hu, associate professor of computer science, formed NKU’s team in 2009 and quickly realized they had a lot to learn to train for the competitions.

Collegiate Cyber Defense Competitions stage multiple challenges that students must navigate. As cyber defense teams work to create and secure their systems, professional “hackers” are given the goal to breach the systems and take them offline. CCDC judges send out network enhancements and upgrade challenges. Teams are scored on their performance juggling all of these factors.

“You have to be very tactical in these competitions, building a secure system all while creating a way to defend it. It’s a continuous loop, which is what they will face in real world. ‘Hackers’ don’t just try one way to get in and stop. They make an attempt and continue to adjust until they breach your system. As a cybersecurity professional, you must adapt and be flexible,” said Dr. Hu, NKU Cyber Defense Team advisor. “These competitions are set up in a mock environment, but they mimic real situations and provide great training for our students.”

Kentucky and Ohio combined competitions this year, and NKU’s team had the top score across the board. One factor that sets the Norse team ahead of the pack is access to a state of the art training facility in the new JRG Cyber Threat Intelligence Lab

NKU’s Cyber Defense Team has eight members: Aluor Nyamor, Allyson Frame, Adel Kassem, John Arlinghaus, Justin Widanski, Justin Flynn, Benjamin Pohlabeln, and Nathanael Long. The students will represent Kentucky in the Midwest Regional competition on March 22-23 in Chicago.  

About the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (MRCCDC): The Midwest Regional competition is one of five regional competitions in which 10 teams each compete for their region’s spot at nationals. In addition to Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio Missouri and Wisconsin make up the Midwest Region of the CCDC. For more information, visit

About NKU:  Northern Kentucky University is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018! Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 14,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information on our 50th, visit