With the help of unshakable bonds, the RCBC cybersecurity team finishes successful season by placing 2nd in Tampa competition
Tuesday, Jun 04, 2024

Hackers beware! Rowan College at Burlington County’s cybersecurity team continues to garner impressive accolades after a top-six national finish last year, this time earning second place in a cybersecurity competition in Tampa, Florida. The competition, just a part of the Tampa Cybersecurity Conference that includes panel discussions and networking opportunities, is best described as a “capture-the-flag” style contest designed to test a team’s ability to combat real-time cyber attacks that threaten to corrupt a system or steal an individual’s sensitive information. 

The team, composed of cybersecurity majors Allison Warren, Molly Connolly, Roy Kramer, John Neyor, Tavon Peterson-Evans, Angelyah Sveum, and Faiz Ibrahim, bested almost every other team in the competition, which included a roster of talented cybersecurity professionals from around the country. Proving the mastery of their skills comes at a critical time, where living in the digital age has demonstrated the need for well-versed professionals who can prevent significant harm from these ever-looming digital attacks.

“Almost everything now is connected to the internet. So we need people to have the skills to understand what hackers are doing because they’re gonna keep hacking,” Kramer said. “They don’t care. They don’t care about the laws. We need people who understand how to defend against that because it’s important. It’s critical to the modern world at this point.”

The team’s success has come partly from the guidance of Computing and Informatics Instructor Nabeel Baig and Assistant Professors of Information Technology Paul Warren and Chris Simber. However, the incredible teamwork they've nurtured has also helped the group shine due to the many hours spent together in the computer lab.

“We learn from each other, we show each other our techniques,” Ibrahim said. “We have Allison handle the analytics… And we have the rest of the group like me, Roy, Ang, Tavon, Molly, just do the, you know, the competition tasks themselves. And, you know, we all help each other out.”

Beyond cohesive classmates, it’s safe to say RCBC has helped create a tight-knit family; it’s evident in the colorful friendship bracelets each member wears, the reminiscing they do about the pool parties members like Warren have hosted, and the Discord servers they spend all night chatting in.

“This place, I think, has changed our lives because it showed us an avenue of, you know, you can find other people that are just so interested and so enveloped in that purpose that you’re so enveloped in,” Ibrahim said. “I can say, without doubt, that these people are the closest friends I’ve ever had my whole life. And, you know, I trust them with everything.”

Their friendship has become so noticeable, so palpable, that other attendees and hosts of the conferences have recognized them as they pass by without even having to don the red, black and white of RCBC, with one host sprinting over to tell them they’re the most fun group she has ever seen.

“We’ve gotten comments like, ‘How long have you guys been friends? This seems like a middle school situation,’” Connolly said. “We’re just like, ‘We met each other six months ago.’”

These experiences and bonds have also planted the seeds of post-RCBC plans for some team members. Ibrahim is in the process of building up his own cybersecurity company called Cyberknights, and Connolly plans to join him.

“It’s a little startup, it’s not really, you know, anything big or major,” Ibrahim said. “But that’s kind of my dream. That’s kind of what I’ve been, you know, hoping to see, to thrive in this world as this little company that I’m building with my closest friends here.”