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CIS students are competitive in Cyber Security contest

Release Date: November 09, 2017

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo


National Cyber League logo

Colorado State University-Pueblo CIS students are competitive in Cyber Security contest

PUEBLO – Colorado State University-Pueblo students scored in the upper 5 to 10 percentile this past weekend at the Fall 2017 National Cyber League (NCL) nationwide online cyber security competition. Computer Information Systems (CIS) major Ryan Garbars, a junior from Golden, scored tops in the nation out of 2,423 cyber security competitors from 68 institutions.

Hasan School of Business CIS students Alex Marcks, senior from Pueblo, scored in the top 100 at number 54 followed by top 5-10% percentile scores from CIS students  Josh Greer, senior from Fountain, Austin Tapia, freshman from Pueblo, and Hunter Stevens, sophomore from Aurora. The NCL had a pre-qualifying cyber game (to place students into one of three brackets -- Bronze, Silver, Gold) and Faculty, Coaches, Mentors and non-attached students (Pewter) to have individuals and team compete on similar competency levels. CSU-Pueblo NCL Coach and Associate Professor Computer Information Systems Dr. Roberto Mejias scored among the top 1.5%, ranking #12 of 854 professors.

The individual competition typically includes 8-9 “Modules” of Cyber Security with 5 to 30 questions in each Module.  For the 2017 Fall Season, the following Cyber Security Modules and Challenges were presented:

  1. Open Source Intelligence (10 Challenges)
  2. Cryptography (10 Challenges)
  3. Port Scanning (3 Challenges)
  4. Password Cracking (6 Challenges)
  5. Log Analysis (4 Challenges)
  6. Network Traffic Analysis (Using WireShark) (4 Challenges)
  7. Wireless Access Exploitation (3 Challenges)
  8. Web Application Exploitation (3 Challenges)
  9. Enumeration and Exploitation (3 Challenges)

Mejias said many of the national cyber security competitors use pseudonyms or anonymous pen names or "handles" during these national NCL games. However, Mejias asked the University’s "Cyber Wolves" students to use the suffix "CSU-Pueblo" in order to generate recognition for CSU-Pueblo as a U.S. National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence (NSA-CAE) designated institution. CSU-Pueblo was designated a NSA-CAE/CDE institution in April, 2016.

“Our CSU-Pueblo CIS students are generating an excellent reputation in Colorado for being future tech-savvy, hardworking and cyber security oriented professionals,” said Mejias.

“Our CSU-Pueblo students will be some of the future leaders and decision makers in Cybersecurity,” said Mark Gonzales, adjunct professor of CIS and CSEPP (Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program) IT manager for Pueblo County. “It’s an exciting time to be part of such an important effort to keep our businesses, communities and country safe.”  

Gonzales noted that Information Technology has been identified as one of the  “16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof

Mary Graft, Director, Cybersecurity Workforce Development, Education, And Training for the National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) in Colorado Springs, expressed her appreciation to the CSU-Pueblo faculty “for training and encouraging creative young minds.”

 “We need to keep the conversations going and educate students in all disciplines as well as families, friends, and neighbors about the challenges, risks, and opportunities of cybersecurity,” she said. 

Mejias said the CSU-Pueblo “CyberWolves” are preparing for the upcoming NCL Team cyber security competition on Nov. 17-19, where he predicts a placement in the upper 10 to 20 teams in the nation.


Colorado State University-Pueblo is committed to excellence, setting the standard for regional comprehensive universities in teaching, research, and service by providing leadership and access for its region, while maintaining its commitment to diversity.

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