Dr. Logan Stratton, DSU alumni and Research Engineer II at the Applied Research Lab in Madison recently competed and placed 5th for Dakota State University in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) annual 2023 Codebreaker Challenge. 


The NSA Codebreaker Challenge offers participants an opportunity to work on a fictional but realistic problem set, centered around the NSA’s mission. These sets can be solved through low-level code analysis and reverse engineering. The competition is open to anyone with an email address from a recognized U.S. school or university.


The challenge differs from many other cyber competitions which are typically completed during a weekend. Codebreaker participants had from Sept. 28, 2023, to Jan. 11, 2024, to complete all nine tasks. 


There were 450 schools and over 5,000 students who participated in the 2023 challenge, which required students to solve a series of nine tasks using skills such as reverse engineering, programming, cryptography, forensics, and exploitation development. It’s an opportunity to learn more about topics they may not be familiar with, and to practice their skills.


Stratton was the only one associated with Dakota State to solve this year’s challenge. However, he hopes to have more finishes by DSU-affiliated competitors next year.