Team SPICE Competes At DOE Cyberforce Competition

On 11/30 Team SPICE attended a multi-day, national Capture the Flag (CTF) competition at Argonne Lab. The CyberForce Competition is sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) and, along with other locations, hosted 79 teams. As a practical implementation of SPICE’s Cyber Defense Competition class, team members consist of graduate researchers ranging in a wide variety of skills and areas of research. This report is from team leader George Osterholdt.

The DOE CyberForce Competition is an essential experience for the student competitors here at Indiana University. The competitors learn essential real-world skills (project management, network topology design, server hardening, vulnerability scanning, intrusion detection and prevention, end-user documentation, CISO presentation, and cyber-attack recovery, usable security) as part of this event.

The scenario given to the student competitors was that of restructuring the Information Technology and Operational Technology of an oil logistics and transportation company. The given services were scanned and hardened and documentation was provided to the White (the IT administrators for the competition) and Green (testers of the availability and usability of the systems) teams by the student competitors prior to the event. The student competitors, also, presented the systems design and creative solutions to a CISO panel during the live event.

During the event day our Blue team (Team SPICE), was inundated with attacks from a Red team of industry and DOE/D experts from all over the country. This live attack experience helps the students learn the skills needed to protect services and infrastructure because after the event the Red team members take time for a Q&A with our team. The student competitors learn what tools the red team used for the attacks and learn what successful configuration and monitoring skills Team SPICE used that the Red team was most frustrated by.

The opportunity to have experts give positive and negative feedback and share strategies and tools with the student competitors is irreplaceable.

The ability for Blue team students to develop the skills needed for their future careers in such a fun way creates students that are capable of sharing the experience and mentoring other students here at Indiana University. The partnership with the Department of Energy National Laboratories gives SICE future research opportunities in cyberinfrastructure security and is a service to the nation.

Team SPICE would like to thank the Center for Security and Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, the Argonne National Laboratory, and the volunteers (Red, Green, White, other Blue teams and the CISO Panel) for the opportunity to add the CyberForce Competition to our resumes and for an unforgettable experience.

Further information on the CyberForce 2019 competition is available at their website.

The device that the team defended (and shown in the image gallery) is a¬†CybatiWorks™ Oil Transportation System designed for the DOE CyberForce Competition. It is composed of an HMI, OPC server, engineering workstation and physical model. The HMI, OPC server and engineering workstation are located on the HMI Ubuntu workstation. The physical extraction and distribution model is operated by a Raspberry PI. The Raspberry PIs are setup as a High Performance Computing cluster with four nodes.