Southern Illinois University System

02/23/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/24/2024 17:06

SIU’s student cybersecurity team claims Illinois state title

The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Security Dawgs clinched the top spot at the Illinois State Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition on Feb. 17, placing first among eight schools vying for the top position. The team includes, front row, left to right: Matthew Pawlowski, Andrew Barnes, Trent Grider. Back row, left to right: Tony Barnes, Dustin Myers, Tyson Nicklin, Nikolis Lissimore, and Matthew Nicklin, team faculty adviser. (Photo provided)

February 23, 2024

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Security Dawgs clinched the top spot at the Illinois State Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition on Feb. 17, placing first among eight schools vying for the top position.

The team, a registered student organization, bested teams including those from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Lewis University, Governors State University, DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago and others to secure the top prize. The achievement highlights the strength of SIU's new cybersecurity technology program that will start in fall 2024, and also sets a high standard for future competitions, said Chun-Hsi "Vincent" Huang, director of the School of Computing.

"The success of the Security Dawgs is a testament to the quality of education and training provided by SIU," Huang said. "It showcases the talent and dedication of our students in the field of cybersecurity."

Matt Nicklin, assistant lecturer and faculty adviser to the team, said the university is fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated group of students.

"It really is the students that make the difference," Nicklin said. "They spend most evenings working through the competition topology, addressing configuration issues and vulnerabilities."

Students on the team include Dustin Myers, Trent Grider, Tyson Nicklin, Matthew Pawlowski, Tony Barnes, Andrew Barnes, Alex Hayes, and Nikolis Lissimore.

"Their teamwork, expertise and dedication were pivotal in navigating the challenges of the competition and ultimately securing the first-place victory," said Huang, who also thanked Nicklin for countless hours dedicated to guiding and supporting the team.

"His commitment has been instrumental in our success and serves as an inspiration to us all," Huang said.

Building on a strong record

The Security Dawgs' latest win comes on the heels of a strong 2023 competition season, which saw it racking up wins in regional and local contests. The team's next challenge will be at the

Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, March 15-16, at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois. That competition will pit SIU against the top schools from Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

During the competition, the teams will build and defend mock production business infrastructure from professional "hackers" attempting to take each team's production systems offline and breach the security. At the same time, judges will deploy network enhancements and upgrade challenges to teams, evaluating each team's performance along the way.