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Two Harbors native leads team in national cybersecurity contest

Two Harbors native and North Dakota State University senior Isaac Burton (center) led his cyber security team to 19th place out of 368 national teams. Submitted photo1 / 2
Two Harbors native and North Dakota State University senior Isaac Burton works on a laptop computer. Submitted photo2 / 2

Two Harbors native and North Dakota State University senior Isaac Burton led his cyber security team to four top 10 finishes in the National Cyber League's fall competition and 19th overall place out of 368 teams.

Burton, the team captain, also placed 45th out of 3,324 students nationwide in the individual competition.

"Isaac has an extraordinarily bright future ahead of him," said NDSU Assistant Professor Jeremy Straub, who mentors the National Cyber League Team. Straub is also the associate director of the NDSU Institute for Cybersecurity Education and Research.

"College graduates with skills in cybersecurity are in extremely high demand; those with skills at Isaac's level can basically write their own ticket," he said. "We are exceptionally proud of Isaac's individual skills as well as his leadership of the other students on the competition team."

NDSU's team took seventh place nationally in open source intelligence; ninth place in password cracking; eighth place in log analysis; and seventh place in network traffic analysis.

The National Cyber League (NCL) was founded in 2011 to provide, according to the organization, "engaging, entertaining, measurable, and scalable methods of learning to enlist a new generation of cybersecurity professionals."

As part of the competition, Burton had to demonstrate his cybersecurity skills in multiple areas, including open source intelligence, cryptography, scanning, password cracking, log analysis, network traffic analysis, wireless access and web application exploitation and enumeration and exploitation.

For Burton, participating in NCL is about the learning experience as well as finding a job in the field.

"It has helped me display my skills, allowing me to show companies what I can bring to their company," Burton said. "I've learned that learning to work in a team is important to succeed. I enjoy the experience and want to keep experiencing the growth that I have over the last year."

This is Burton's third season of competing in the NCL competition. In the spring competition, he placed in the top 100 of over 2,000 competitors nationwide.

In the fall 2017 competition, he placed in the top 15 percent nationwide.