DSU Students Place Seventh in NSA Codebreaker Challenge

During this year’s National Security Agency’s Codebreaker Challenge, the Dakota State University students placed seventh.

The 2022 Challenge required a mix of reverse engineering, software development, web exploitation, and cryptography skills. There were 4,600 students from 447 academic institutions who participated. 

About 100 of those students were from Dakota State, placing DSU seventh nationwide. 

Four solved all the challenges. Those four were Shane Donahue, Logan Stratton, Austen King, and Nathan Ord. 

This year’s challenge involved trying to help a company after a cyber breach incident.

The competition is “done entirely solo, as a big part of this is to gauge a student’s ability to solve real-world tasks,” Stratton said. For job placement and hiring purposes, many challenges place high importance on individual performance.

The NSA Codebreaker Challenge takes place over four months and Ord says is, “A great way to hone or grow skills in a semi-low-pressure environment, thanks to being a long-form event.” King stated some of the challenges were fairly difficult, “but it was rewarding to solve the complex problems and gain some practical experience.”

The 2023 NSA Codebreaker Challenge will be released this August.