Leveling Up Cybersecurity

For cyber operations majors, training to protect networks and software systems is often learned in a computer lab. Or, as The Citadel’s cyber team well knows, during competitions. Cyber operations and computer science double major Jared Johnson, ’22, was one of six cadets who represented The Citadel at the 2022 Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition.

Johnson remembers how it felt to compete alongside his teammates. “It was interesting to see this
surge of energy across the table,” Johnson said. “Maybe we’ll take another look at that mail server. Maybe I’ll go look for a way to break back into this box.” As part of the competition, the cadets had to keep their network functional and available for use while remedying unexpected issues.

With previous experience competing for The Citadel, Johnson and his team confidently manned the network, made updates and disabled unnecessary features. As the timer began to run low, the scores were close, so the judges decided to award one of the 10 collegiate teams a token that would offer a strategic advantage.

To win the token, Johnson’s team had to be creative. One of his teammates captured the spotlight by serenading the judges with “Fly Me to the Moon.” “It was a good boost in terms of spirit and morale,” Johnson said.

“It was interesting to see this surge of energy across the table.”

This was Johnson’s last cyber competition before he graduated. “It was an awesome opportunity,” he said, “and the faculty that we have really go above and beyond by showing us what stars to aim for and giving us the resources for success.” After participating in competitions like this, Johnson now has the hands-on knowledge and application to reach those stars… and fly to the moon.