Posted on March 2, 2023 by Rebekah Alegria

UTSA’s cyber competition team competed in the global finals of the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) in New York this spring. The interdisciplinary team, comprised of cyber security and computer science majors, was one of 15 groups worldwide who advanced to the finals.

Team members were Timothy Avram , Alex Bryant , Aditya Dindi , Mason Eckenrod , Julian Peña and Jacob Rahimi . Team coaches were college faculty members Benjamin Anderson and John Newsom.

“Student participation in competitions like CPTC provide valuable hands-on experiences designed by industry professionals to incorporate tasks, technologies and issues they have encountered in their professional work. This enables students to apply their technical knowledge on simulated, but still real-world issues, that they will face when they graduate and begin their professional careers,” said Anderson, associate professor of practice in the Department of Information Systems and Cyber Security in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business.

During the three-day competition, the students conducted a hands-on assessment of The Cozy Croissant, a fictitious hotel, that required them to search for security vulnerabilities in the hotel’s infrastructure including video surveillance systems, hotel management software, network and Wi-Fi access and business systems.

The team also participated in two penetration challenges that simulated real-world problems. The first activity was that the team was given a hotel safe that they had to access. The second activity was a social engineering challenge where they tried to acquire information from a pretend front desk worker.

“I learned firsthand how a penetration testing engagement is conducted; not only does it require having the technical skills to break into a company’s network, but also the ability to communicate with the client and present what you found during the engagement,” said Dindi , a freshman cyber security team member.

The competition culminated with the students preparing an 88-page report and a 10-minute presentation that showcased to competition sponsors and industry professionals their vulnerability findings.

“Competing in the CPTC Global Finals in New York helped me grow immensely in my knowledge and experience in conducting penetration tests on realistic infrastructure setups,” stated Avram , a senior cyber security team member.

This was just one of several accolades for UTSA’s cyber competition this past year. Utilizing a variety of team members, they placed fourth in the Hivestorm competition at UTSA and sixth in the Department of Energy’s CyberForce competition.

For more information about the UTSA cyber security competition team, contact Benjamin Anderson at .

— Rebekah Alegria