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April 13, 2017

Congratulations to our CSRA Cyber team for successfully defending our title as the Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC) Champions! The April PCDC event was co-hosted in Charleston, South Carolina, by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Atlantic and the Low Country Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA).

This was the third year cyber professionals participated on PCDC PRO Day, and CSRA has won two of those three competitions.PCDC’s mission is to “help students develop their computer technical skills in networking and cybersecurity for exciting careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)”. The annual event includes a high school competition on Saturday, a college competition on Sunday, and a PRO Day on Monday. This was the third year cyber professionals participated on PRO Day, and CSRA has won two of those three competitions.

This was a Blue team defensive competition that pitted government and industry “pro” teams against one another to defend themselves against a Red team. I was honored to once again lead as captain of CSRA’s team of cyber experts from across the company, including several colleagues representing our CSRA Cyber Institute, which provides cyber training to our federal clients. This competition toughened our team collaboration and technical knowledge across various operating systems, databases, web applications, containerization, networks, and virtualization.

The challenge involved the fictional Palmetto Shipping Company whose IT staff was recently fired, and the teams had to quickly understand a complex application to control a shipping logistics system. We were required to provide security for the systems, perform business tasks (injects), all while protecting the networks from the Red team and preventing our ships from being attacked by pirates.

This year the Red team was extremely challenging, demonstrating again that it’s important to continually back-up data in multiple places across the network, validate the executables on the systems, install endpoint protection, and keep a close eye on SIEM tools and the network perimeter. Working as a team, we were able to effectively detect and mitigate many of these threats, but Red team’s tactics definitely revealed new and unconventional methods of attack and pivot in our systems. CSRA will take these lessons learned and provide training through our Cyber Institute’s Virtual Training Platform on these advanced tactics so our customer teams can incorporate the defense knowledge into improving our customers’ systems. In the end, we were able to provide a comprehensive cyber defense strategy that proved us successful—further proof that CSRA is the premier cyber defense provider.

CSRA team members: Matthew Cooper, Andrew Dayton, Kyle Jarrett, Dalton Schaadt, Andy White, and Mike YoungMy personal thanks to my fellow CSRA team members: Matthew Cooper, Andrew Dayton, Kyle Jarrett, Dalton Schaadt, Andy White, and Mike Young. Also, special thanks to Ron Payne for helping us organize this opportunity.

Congratulations to the other competing teams: SAIC, SRC, Parsons, SCANA, Sentar, and the South Carolina National Guard. A special shout out to Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC); they were right behind us and we only edged them out by a very small margin.

Cyber exercises like these enable us to showcase the knowledge, skills, teamwork and problem solving that we provide to our clients every day—from helping clients detect and remediate security threats, to information assurance support while training and elevating the skills of the cyber workforce through our Cyber Institute. Most importantly, it allows us the opportunity to learn and apply new knowledge and skills for our customers.

I’m incredibly proud of what our team accomplished. Through our knowledge and experience of advanced cyber solutions, information assurance, cyber training capabilities, and one of many security operations centers that we manage for our customers, we were able to prove our cyber defense leadership at PCDC.


About the Author

Dr. Matthew McFadden is CSRA's Cybersecurity Service Area Director within our Digital Consulting Group, providing expertise and thought leadership to showcase CSRA’s extensive cybersecurity qualifications. As a Distinguished Engineer, he previously served as chief technologist for the Defense Innovation Cell, which helps solve challenges with expertise through consultancy and through innovation with leading-edge technologies and processes. Additionally, he has supported CSRA's DoD Cyber Crime Center's Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy (DCITA) program in numerous roles developing state-of-the-art cyber training for our Cyber Mission Forces.

As a technical cyber subject matter expert, Dr. McFadden has developed advanced cyber solutions for federal and defense clients and performed cyber defense, training, forensics, incident response, and analytical support. He also supports CSRA’s Cyber Institute and assisted in developing CSRA's Cyber Institute's 2017 Hackathon.

Dr. McFadden brings experience as a research and development lead, instructor, and solution architect. He has spent several years in the IT field specializing in technology, cloud, big data, and cyber related to DCO, OCO, network intrusions, log analysis, malware analysis, and forensics. He is a published author, presenter, researcher, and holds numerous industry IT certifications. Most recently, he was team captain of CSRA's winning PCDC team (2016 and 2017).