Story By: Franklin Pearson (AKA Frankenstein)
University: ECPI University
Team Name: D0wn the L1ne
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am studying Cyber and Network Security at ECPI University in Columbia, SC. I am currently a full time student with a wife and 2 year old son. I am a very hard worker and supporter of my family by working a full-time job and a part-time job.
I am striving to improve myself so that I can provide a better life for my family and show that no matter whether you stumble in the beginning of your college pursuit like I did, it is never too late to go back and finish.
Because anything worth getting is going to take a lot of effort, time and hard work.
Tell us about your interest in cybersecurity
I heard an ad for ECPI on the radio and was already thinking about going back to school for a degree. After speaking with the admissions team and knowing that I could get a quality degree in a short amount of time, I took the opportunity.
After my first day I found my way towards the IT staff for the campus. There, I learned about the Cyber defense competition where I could apply what I learn in my classes and at the same time get a hands on experience in an environment that shows how systems get infected and come up with different solutions.
My first project was working with MySQL databases and E-commerce servers. I had no idea what I was doing or even where to approach this when I started out. However, with the support of my mentor Chris — and with a lot hard work — I was able to gain a decent foundation of manipulating databases and securing them.
When CCDC announced the environment that we would be competing in I found out that the E-Commerce database would be in a CentOs 6 OS. Since this OS ran IPTables as its firewall, I now had to figure out how to manipulate it. While learning the different rules for IPTables I had an idea: what if I could write the rules in such a way that the nmap command would not reply with any information about the ports or services running. This way when the Red team tries to enumerate my system they wouldn't get a response.
After a lot of trial and error I was able to successfully implement it on CentOS 6 and then expand it to Debian 7, CentOS 7, Ubuntu, and Fedora. During the competition our Linux boxes were able to fend off the red team. After my first competition I was asked to look into network firewalls such as pfsense to prepare for the PCDC competition that we qualified for when we placed in a certain percentage at CCDC.
This is when my passion for firewalls began and I dived into them. I am constantly trying to improve my IPTables firewall and generate different templates for the team to use so they can focus on their applications while I have the host firewall set up for them no matter the OS.
Why are you participating in Wicked 6 Cyber Games?
My teammates and I were looking for an opportunity to get more competition experience and find a platform that allows us to have tons of fun, showcase our unique abilities, and demonstrate the amount of teamwork that we have.
What challenges do you expect to encounter?
I am not very familiar with the Kali Linux distribution and the different applications that it houses. I know a little, but I fully expect to run into things that will challenge my critical thinking.
What do you expect to get out of the Wicked6 Cyber Games event?
I hope to have an enjoyable time with my teammates and learn something new. I also hope to be able to network with other cyber security students that are from different parts of the country.
Do you have any advice for your peers?
Never assume you know everything because there is always someone out there that knows more. And never stop learning new software or improving yourselves.
Anything else to add?
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to compete; we will try our best.