Posted on October 22, 2020 by Wendy Frost

A team of students from the UTSA College of Business placed second in the 2020 UTSA Cyber Range SOCathon competition.

SOCathan participants








The students were members of the CompTIA student chapter at UTSA. Team members were juniors Cris Rivera and Ryenn White; seniors Chris Bates, Brandon Taylor Bonnell, Adam Kissee and Chandler Santos; and graduate student Steven Moghadam, BBA ’19. The students received coaching from John Arce, director of the Cyber Security Community of Practice at B.E.A.T. LLC.

“Competitions like these are beneficial because it immerses you in a hyper-realistic virtual environment in which the simulated attacks educate and improve your time to detect, respond and remediate a real-world cyber-attack before it happens,” said Santos, who is majoring in cyber security and information systems. “It forces you to think outside the box because a simulation never repeats.”

Six teams participated in the competition including high school and college students as well as a team from Colorado.

“The SOCathon taught me more than how to navigate a security operations center environment,” said Bonnell, a cyber security major. “It helped me understand the significance of expanding my own skills and putting them into practice. The classroom can only take us so far; it is up to ourselves to take that next step.”

Each team defended against automated cyber attacks generated by the UTSA Cyber Range to earn points. The team that accumulated the most points was named the winner. Teams were evaluated based on their speed and quality of response according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology incident response process.

“In addition to technical skills, the teams were also judged based on their ability to use teamwork and communication as part of their incident response,” said Joe Mallen, director of the UTSA Cyber Range.

“Through my participation, I was able to determine where my weaknesses and strengths lie and get a quality assessment of areas of improvement,” said Santos. “UTSA is doing a terrific job teaching cyber security students the importance of in-demand skills.”

The CompTIA Student Chapter at UTSA aims to build a like-minded cybersecurity community and transition its members from students to entry-level cybersecurity professionals through hosting professional guest speakers, participating in information security competitions and facilitating CompTIA certification workshops.

The competition was sponsored by the Cyber Texas Foundation and ICF Management Consulting.


— Wendy Frost