Student Kimberly Monka Has Particularly Impressive Showing at Competition – Posted 4/17/15

The County College of Morris (CCM) cyber defense team finished its first year of competition with a successful trip to the regional finals.

The CCM Cyber Centurions finished seventh at the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (MACCDC) Regional Finals. The MACCDC was held at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Maryland. This was the first time the team, consisting of members from the college’s Cyber Security Club, competed in any cybersecurity competition, and it was the first and only team from any New Jersey college or university to enter the competition. The school was one of only 10 teams to make it to regionals.

Individually, CCM student and president of the Cyber Security Club Kimberly Monka, of Denville, had an impressive showing. During the virtual qualifying round, Monka successfully kept the Red Team, the designated attack team, out of her server by continually fending off attacks for the entire three-hour duration of the competition.

The competition ranked individuals by their success in capturing flags. A flag is a hidden file on a system. Monka finished 10th out of 110 individuals.

The Regional Finals were a two-day in-person competition with 10 teams competing to represent the Mid-Atlantic region at the National CCDC in Texas. The scenario this year involved mass transportation. All teams inherited a commuter rail system’s IT infrastructure and were responsible for defending and maintaining the system for the duration of the competition. All teams had 12 servers, firewalls and workstations they had to configure, operate, secure and maintain. Teams had to keep their networks and services running, keep the attackers from the Red Team out of their network and applications, and complete periodic “injects” that simulate business activities IT staff must deal with in the real world.

The team made its mark in the competition by being the first team to secure its passwords by writing them on edible paper, and subsequently eating them. At the end of the competition, the team graciously volunteered to help the National CyberWatch Center break down and pack up, and was invited back as volunteer staff next year if the team chooses not to compete.

The team was made up of students Alexander Zielinski, of Lake Hiawatha; Brian Seligson, of Parsippany; Jared Rudow, of Wayne; Mihir Kansagra, of Rockaway; Sergiy Tsysarchuk, of Wharton; Shaun Carroll, of Landing; Patrick McGrath, of Towaco; Ryan Bednar, of Denville; Rayne Cafaro, of Denville; and Monka.

The team was sponsored by Raytheon, which paid for the participants’ entrance fees.

The MACCDC, presented by the National CyberWatch Center, is now in its 10th year of providing a venue for college and university students to test their cybersecurity knowledge and skills in a competitive environment. The event’s objectives are to provide a mechanism for higher education to evaluate their programs and an educational platform for students to apply the theory and skills they learn in the classroom. For more information, visit

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Photo: The County College of Morris Cyber Centurions, from left to right, Kimberly Monka, Alexander Zielinski, Brian Seligson, Sergiy Tsyarchuk, Patrick McGrath, Shaun Carroll, Rayne Cafaro, Mihir Kansagra, Professor Patricia Tamburelli, Professor Joseph Tamburelli and Jared Rudow.