WASHINGTON, DC. Scenario: It’s 2014. Tensions between the U.S. and Russia are escalating over Russia’s declining oil revenues and the U.S.’s increasing exports of natural gas to Europe. In a coordinated attack during a 48-hour window, advanced malware has disabled 13 oil refineries belonging to Fortune 10 companies. The sophistication of this malware makes it a serious menace to all U.S. industrial control systems. What should the U.S. do?
In an all-day competition organized by the Atlantic Council and sponsored by SAIC, 20 teams from 17 schools gathered at American University in Washington D.C. to present their policy alternatives. Teams were competing for $5,000 in prize money. FSU was represented by Lauren Pearce, Clark Wood, Owen Redwood and Doug Wussler, FSU graduate students in computer criminology, information security and computer science. The teams submitted a written policy brief in advance of the competition and had to make a 15-minute oral presentation on the morning of the competition. After the morning presentation the scenario was escalated and the teams had three hours to prepare a second presentation in the afternoon.
Judges included former White House staffers, employees from the Department of Defense, DHS and NSA, and Jeff Moss, CSO for ICANN, otherwise known as the Dark Tangent. General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, gave the keynote speech and answered student questions before the award ceremony.
The FSU team walked away with the award for Most Creative Policy Response Alternative. Team members credited Owen with the idea that caught the attention of the judges. “The proposal was to use honeypots as a platform for cooperation between the public and private sector,” said Owen. “Private companies own and operate the attack surface. We have to find a way to get everyone together to gather and share intelligence.”
Team members used Skype and Google Docs to meet from four different cities while writing their policy brief and planning their presentation. “Technology is a great enabler,” said Lauren, “but there is no substitute for being in the same room. We were a lot more productive during the few hours we had together in Washington the day before our presentation.”
“We’re grateful to FSU for the opportunity to compete,” said Clark, “and we want to give a big thank you to our faculty advisor, Dr. Liu. He was on every call with us and proved to be an enormous help during our preparations.” The teams had a chance to socialize and network for a few hours after the competition. “I highly recommend the experience,” said Doug. “I hope to see FSU send a team again next year.“