San Antonio cyber sleuths go head-to-head in UTSA cyber gaming tournament

San Antonio cyber sleuths go head-to-head in UTSA cyber gaming tournament

More than 60 players will test their cybersecurity skills in the sold out tournament.

(Oct. 1, 2018) — Defending a computer network against cyber-attacks while simultaneously building up an organization’s assets and providing security training events may appear to be a typical day’s work for a cybersecurity professional, but for middle and high-school students throughout San Antonio, those are standard attack and defense moves used in the card game, Cyber Threat Defender (CTD).

At UTSA on Saturday, October 6, players ages 11 and up will use their cybersecurity skills against one another in the first citywide CTD tournament to determine who is the ultimate Cyber Threat Defender. The tournament is hosted by the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), which also developed the game, with support from CyberTexas Foundation.

The game’s goal is simple: build a network as quickly as possible so the player can “do more business” and gain more points. While building a network, a player’s opponent will try to disrupt their systems and network. Some attacks will infiltrate their data while others can cause hardware failure. This game teaches players that for every cyber threat there is a defense. As a Swiss-style tournament, or non-eliminating tournament, the winner will be the competitor with the highest cumulative pointes earned in all rounds.

“The idea behind Cyber Threat Defender is rooted in the concept that the player with the most complete set of security defenses will be the one who is able to protect their critical systems and emerge victorious,” said Larry Sjelin, director of game development at CIAS.

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The main focus for each player is cybersecurity strategy. Many players are introduced to CTD in their school’s classroom, where technology and cybersecurity are incorporated into their STEM curriculum. Strategies are built on how asset, defense, event and attack cards interact, whether they build up, tear down or defend a network.

“Since launching CTD in April 2016, the CIAS has distributed the game to more than 250 schools across 15 states and four countries,” adds Sjelin. “However, we’ve also received a very positive response from industries that enjoy using the game to provide cybersecurity training to their employees. We hope this first ever city-wide tournament will help provide an interactive platform to hone a player’s understanding of defense implementation and reinforce their cybersecurity training.”

While CTD is an easy-to-play, engaging game regardless of age or skill level, players are expected to be ready to compete with basic knowledge of the game. Prior to the tournament, players are encouraged to download the game, for free, directly to their PC to practice and learn strategies. 

The Cyber Threat Defender Tournament is Saturday, Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104) on the UTSA Main Campus. Each player will receive a free set of CTD playing cards, a tournament game mat and t-shirt.

Sponsors include UTSA Research, Alamo ISSA and Symantec. Businesses interested in supporting the tournament as a sponsor can contact Larry Sjelin at 210-458-2159.

The tournament is now full, but interested players are encouraged to sign up for the waiting list.


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