Press Release   Home  >   News & Publications  > News

March 19, 2015

College Teams Attempt to Stay “On Track” Against Cyberattacks at 10th Annual Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, March 26–28

Teams from 10 Regional Schools Face “Operation Transit Storm,” Cyberattacks on Simulated Commuter Rail System

A depiction of the MESSENGER spacecraft flying over Mercury's surface, displayed in enhanced color

College students from 10 mid-Atlantic schools will defend a virtual mass transportation computer system against full-scale cyberattacks at the 10th Annual National CyberWatch Center Mid-Atlantic Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.

The Mid-Atlantic CCDC is designed to give students the chance to apply classroom theory and skills to defend against real-time targeted cyber attackers, led by professional security testers, in a controlled, scored setting. Each competition revolves around a simulated scenario — based on real-world systems such as elections and health care — that shows students the effects of various cyberattacks.

This year’s scenario, “Operation Transit Storm,” pits the college teams against the fictitious Hackistan Army of Liberation (HAL), which will be portrayed by professional cybersecurity experts. The teams are informed that HAL has publicly threatened U.S. citizens and plans to target regional commuter rail control networks and information systems. The college teams will attempt to operate a simulated version of a commuter rail system’s IT infrastructure, and be responsible for defending and maintaining the system for the duration of the competition, enduring numerous attempts to sabotage and disrupt the railway.

“The Mid-Atlantic CCDC is special because we really give these young men and women a tough challenge,” said Lewis Lightner, director of the National CyberWatch Center at Prince George’s (Maryland) Community College. “We drop them into a scenario they don’t know much about, with infrastructure they’ve never used before, and then we throw professional cybersecurity testers at them. It’s a great simulation of what cybersecurity is sometimes like in the real world, and it gives them a unique way to learn and improve their skills while under fire.”

The event will take place over the course of three days. The CCDC kicks off on Thursday, March 26, with opening remarks from Admiral Patrick M. Walsh (USN, Ret.), senior vice president, iSIGHT Partners; that will be followed by a job fair featuring government agencies and private firms. The two-day competition begins on Friday, March 27. On Saturday, March 28, there will be a K-12 fair and expo to learn about cybersecurity as a field of study and as a career. The entire three-day event is free and open to the public.

Ten teams of students from two- and four-year colleges and universities will vie for the mid-Atlantic regional title during the competition, to be held at the Kossiakoff Center at APL. The teams are:

The winning team will compete in the Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition April 24–26, in San Antonio.

The Mid-Atlantic CCDC, part of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, is coordinated and run by the National CyberWatch Center, an Advanced Technological Education Center funded by the National Science Foundation.

Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition:
Directions to the Johns Hopkins APL Kossiakoff Center:
National CCDC:
National CyberWatch Center:
Competition Videos:

Media contacts:
Geoff Brown, 240-228-5618,
Elizabeth Johnson, 240-228-9118,

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit

APL Celebrates 80 Years of

Game-Changing Impact

Read more

80th anniversary