MSU at the USITCC conference

Lino Perez, sixth from the left in the front row, stands with his group after winning the 2019 Cybersecurity National Championship award. 

Lino Perez, senior computer information systems major at Missouri State University, won the 2019 Cybersecurity National Championship at the U.S. Information Technology Collegiate Conference on April 6.

USITCC’s annual conference was held April 4-6 in Galveston, Texas. Students nationwide participated in a variety of competitions, including database design, PC troubleshooting and application development.

Perez is currently a member of the MSU chapter of the Association for Information Technology Professionals.

Perez said he has been training since last year’s conference ended.

Last year, he received two honorable mentions in Microsoft Office solutions and PC troubleshooting.

The cybersecurity competition starts with a quiz, Perez said. The top 25 students are chosen based on their scores and advance to show off their skills in a variety of puzzles in what he describes as the “capture the flag” part of the competition.

“There’s always things you don’t know,” Perez said. “For example, for the actual capture the flag side of the competition, there is a possibility of 2,000 points. Out of those 2,000 points, I had reached 715.”

Perez said part of the quiz had to do with Linux commands. Linux is an open-source operating system that is an alternative option to the Windows operating system.

A lot of the questions were based off the CompTIA Security+ certification exam, Perez said. He said the Security+ certification is a test that proves “core competency” in cybersecurity.

Perez said his work with ResNet on campus gave him valuable experience when it comes to technical services.

He said he configured a firewall from scratch, rebuilt the camera server and created scripts for other ResNet consultants.

“I really like the people and culture of ResNet,” Perez said. “I made lifelong friends there and have learned a ton since I started working there back in 2016.”

Xiang Guo, assistant professor for computer information systems at MSU and advisor for AITP on campus, said Perez is one of the most motivated students on their team.

Guo also said Perez helped his teammates by providing resources and giving advice to those who hadn’t competed at UTICC before.

Perez is also in Guo’s special topics class.

“He’s also a very hard-working person,” Guo said. “Every time we had assignments, he is one of the first to get them done and is always asking for more.”

Perez said he already has a full-time job lined up with ConocoPhillips — a company that creates and develops natural gases and crude oil, according to their website.

He said he doesn’t know his position at the company yet, since ConocoPhillips spends three months teaching their employees about the company before having a “speed dating” event where new hires meet with different supervisors and interview them. The new hires then pick their top five or 10 positions they wish to work in and are assigned to one of these roles.

Afton Harper has been a copy editor and reporter for The Standard since spring 2018. She also snaps pictures in her free time.

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