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Students are regional cyberdefense champs

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Western's Collegiate Cyber Defense team won the regional championships for the first time and placed fourth at the national competition. Pictured here are (clockwise from left) David Bover, team coach and associate dean of the College of Sciences and Technology, Mark Shipley, James Collins, Rémi Gattaz, Michael Hennings, Troy Tornow, team coach Phillip Nordwall, Tim Sargent, Katie Klions and Aaron Griffin.

When it comes to defending against a cyberattack, Western students are gaining a national reputation.

A team of eight students won the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, edging out University of Washington in an underdog upset in March.

In the competition, the students attempt to keep a fictitious business’s computer infrastructure humming along while a team of cybersecurity professionals attempt to cause mayhem. Winning the Pacific Rim championship earned the students a trip to San Antonio, Texas, in late April for Western’s first appearance in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, where they placed fourth.

Western’s team includes Troy Tornow of Spokane, Aaron Griffin of Stanwood, Tim Sargent of Bremerton, Katie Klions and Mark Shipley of Silverdale, Rémi Gattaz of France, Michael Hennings of Kingston and James Collins of Conway. Their adviser is Phillip Nordwall, a systems manager in Western's Computer Science Department.

Western recently created a bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Systems Security, a combined four-year program with Whatcom Community College, to help address the state and nation’s urgent need for computer security specialists