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AACC Digital Forensics Team Hacks Their Way to First Place

The team entered the competition late, but soared ahead of others in their class quickly.

The cyber-forensics team at (AACC) took top honors among community colleges in a competition that pitted them against the best teams in the nation, and 52 other countries.

The team consisted of AACC students from all across the county. Though they entered the year-long competition with only 17 days left, they managed to score higher than any other community college in the country.

Ever have your hard drive die on you? Misplace an important file? Recovering that kind of information was part of the challenge the students were faced with in the competition.

They were scored based on their methods and techniques in a wide array of challenges that included overcoming passwords, file encryption, data recovery and data concealment.

Congratulations to everyone who competed. It's reassuring to know who to call the next time my backup drive explodes.

From the press release: 

The team was among the top 10 on the leaders’ board of the U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Digital Forensics Challenge that drew 1,147 teams from all 50 states and 52 countries. The team will receive its award at the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Conference Jan. 22-27 in Atlanta, GA.

The AACC team of Richard Clark of Glen Burnie, Dina Duncan Haines of Severna Park, London Orcurto of Bowie and Christopher Rollins of Pasadena took first place. A second AACC team of Douglas Hayden of Annapolis, Robert Singleton of Arnold, Jasper Tucker of Annapolis and Carly Wyman of Crownsville took third place.

“It is gratifying to know that our teams were well prepared and we are so proud to see them excel,” said AACC President Martha A. Smith.

All team members are enrolled in AACC’s “Cyber Forensics” course this fall. None of the members of either team had prior cyber forensics experience. They used what they had learned eight weeks into the course and what they discovered doing independent research to find solutions to the challenges.

Dawn Blanche, a cyber instructional specialist who is in her first semester at AACC, taught the class. She credited both teams’ perseverance and determination in achieving such excellent results.

Contestants included teams from government, the military, commercial businesses, civilian groups and educational institutions, from high schools to the graduate level.

The U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Digital Forensics Challenge is a yearlong competition that begins each December and ends in November.

The challenge requires the digital forensics community to create new investigative tools, techniques and methodologies and each year encourages a broad range of individuals, teams and institutions to provide innovative technical solutions to computer forensics examiners in the lab as well as in the field.

The challenge consists of 23 individual scenario-based, progressive exercises. All participants compete and receive scores based on solutions to the same 23 exercises. The exercises are broken down into five levels, the Level 100 Novice, Level 200 Advanced, Level 300 Expert, Level 400 Master which has no known solution and Level 500 Developer where teams must develop tools to complete the exercise.

Scoring was based not only on their ability to recover digital evidence, but also on their understanding of legal authority, proper documentation and report-writing techniques.

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