‘Security Dawgs’ place fifth in National Cyber League event

Security Dawgs Cybersecurity Team

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s “Security Dawgs” had a bold showing last month in a run-up event to the 2018 Illinois Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Feb. 17.

The 10-member team placed fifth overall out of 179 teams and second in the Silver Bracket in the National Cyber League, a capture-the-flag-style cybersecurity competition. The team also finished second overall in the wireless access exploitation, network traffic analysis and password cracking categories.

Challenge of competitors’ knowledge and problem-solving skills

“The competition challenged its competitors in various categories, from open source intelligence to binary analysis,” said Belle Woodward, an associate professor in the School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies and faculty adviser for the registered student organization.  “And it offered students a valuable opportunity to exercise their skills in a competitive manner with complex challenges that put their knowledge and problem-solving skills to the test.”

A different kind of cybersecurity competition

The Security Dawgs have a strong reputation in collegiate cybersecurity competitions. The team has won three state competitions, most recently in 2014, and finished second in 2015, 2016, and 2017. The team has advanced to the Midwest regional competition in seven of the last 10 years, including a wildcard berth in 2017.

“The Security Dawgs have previously shown their capabilities in the traditional defensive competitions where they are tasked with securing and protecting their networks and systems,” Tom Imboden, an associate professor in information systems technologies, said. “Their success in the National Cyber League proves they can put on their ‘white hats’ as ethical hackers and demonstrate offensive security skills, using the same tools and techniques professional security testers often use.”

The Team

Security Dawg team members, all of whom are information systems technologies majors, are:


  • Centralia: Ronald DeBernardi, senior
  • Hoffman Estates: Christian Scott, junior
  • Marion: Trenton Taylor, senior
  • Mattoon: Mark Blume, senior
  • Oak Lawn: Jacob Kupres, junior
  • Springfield: Benjamin Hughes: junior
  • Villa Grove: Jackson Kestner, junior
  • West Frankfort: John Nolen, senior


  • Naples: Thomas Birch, senior


  • Sauk Centre: Bri Yagow, junior
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