Science & Technology

UWF places second at prestigious Southeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

The University of West Florida Cyber Club placed second overall and won the Best in Team Defense and Best in Service Up Time categories at the prestigious 2020 Southeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, hosted virtually by Kennesaw State University.

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Kennesaw State edged UWF for the championship. Second place marks the best showing for UWF in its five appearances at the Southeast competition, which includes institutions from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. UWF topped teams from Clemson University and the University of Florida, among others.

“Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition is the most challenging and representative of abilities of all of the competitions out there,” said Michael Mitchell, a senior cybersecurity major. “It involves real world scenarios and machines with real world hackers and malware. It’s sponsored by the biggest security giants out there.”

UWF Cyber Club team members included: Mitchell, John Chamblee, Gabriel Clark, Ben Hendrix, Justin Fruitticher, Caroline Krouse, Zac Mingus, Cody Morton and Dakota Waters. Anthony Pinto, lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and UWF Center for Cybersecurity faculty fellow, served as team advisor.

“They worked extremely hard in preparing this year, meeting regularly to practice and learning from each other,” Pinto said. “Even with practicing remotely, they continued to strive for excellence.”

UWF set scoring records in winning the Best in Team Defense and Best in Service Up Time categories. Teams were tasked with protecting their networks against active industry penetration testers during the competition. Their scores were assessed on their abilities to respond to breaches of security, accomplish business tasks in the light of breaches of security and to shore up machines to prevent compromise.

“Throughout the competition everyone was giving it their all,” said Hendrix, a junior cybersecurity major who served as team captain. “You would finish kicking a hacker out of the system and then have to turn around and write a report on it, all while working on business tasks which had a deadline. On the second day of the competition, we had a period where we had to pull two people off of protecting the network just to read through a 100-page policy and answer questions relating to our network.”

The UWF Cyber Club is open to all students interested in learning about cybersecurity topics and participating in cybersecurity-related activities. The club competes in cybersecurity competitions and discusses cybersecurity research.

For more information on the UWF Cyber Club, visit