What’s New in Cyber Skyline for Fall 2020


Cyber Skyline, the platform on which the National Cyber League (NCL) competitions take place, has added some awesome new features in preparation for the NCL Fall 2020 season.

Leaderboard Blackout

This is a big change. During the final hour of each competition, you’ll be unable to see the leaderboard. A tentative leaderboard will be published a few days after each competition, followed by a finalized leaderboard once the cheating audit is completed. The exact timeline is still in flux, but we expect it to span several weeks:

  1. One hour before the competition ends: The leaderboard is hidden.
  2. End of competition: Cyber Skyline will begin the cheating audit.
  3. A few days after the competition ends: A tentative leaderboard will be published. Ranks can still change at this point, but we anticipate that most major issues within the top ranks will have been resolved.
  4. A couple weeks after the competition ends: The cheating audit will complete, and a finalized leaderboard will be published.

This is primarily intended to address the lack of finalization of the rankings at the end of the competition. New players and teams have a tendency to believe that the rankings are final as soon as the competition ends: if you’re in first, you’re in first. That isn’t the case. Before the scores are finalized, a cheating audit takes place. This usually takes several weeks–plenty of time for a school to accidentally announce a team’s rank prematurely.

In an effort to minimize confusion (and, in rare cases, embarrassment), we want to ensure that nobody announces their rank before it’s finalized. You might think you’ve ranked third, but by the time the cheating audit is finished, you might be in first place!

As someone who’s always been fairly competitive in NCL, I’ll be the first to admit that this is going to have an impact on competitive game play. Strategies may need to be adjusted, especially during team games. Overall, though, I anticipate that this will bring a new degree of excitement, suspense, and friendly rivalry.

Fixing Challenges On-the-Fly

Cyber Skyline is a wonderfully fair platform. Generally, challenges are clear, and there’s little need to fuss over determining the correct format for an answer.

However, nothing’s perfect. During each competition, there are usually a handful of challenges that need to be clarified. Sometimes, answers that were initially marked as incorrect are accepted as correct retroactively, and accuracy metrics are adjusted accordingly. Other times, previous attempts are wiped from the records and accuracy metrics are reset. And, sometimes, scoring adjustments aren’t necessary. Cyber Skyline always attempts to take the fairest approach to correcting mistakes.

In the past, these scoring adjustments weren’t particularly transparent unless participants were active on the Cyber Skyline Slack group, where corrective actions would be announced live. If you weren’t paying attention or weren’t in the Slack group, you might have missed out on important information.

Going forward, Cyber Skyline will be sending out conspicuous notifications on the website when answers are marked correct retroactively, as well as when challenge text has been updated since you last viewed it:

Even with the advent of such notifications, we continue to recommend that you join the Cyber Skyline Slack group. Once you’ve registered for a Cyber Skyline account, visit https://cyberskyline.com/slack and follow the instructions. Once you’re connected, you’ll be able to join the NCL channel on Cyber Skyline’s Slack, where you’ll be able to communicate directly with other players, player ambassadors, and people running the competition. It’s a great community and a valuable learning resource.

Personalized Dashboards

Players, you’ll now have your own personalized dashboard that shows your past achievements and upcoming events in a nifty timeline:

Coaches

Coaches, we haven’t forgotten about you. You’ll also be receiving an improved dashboard that will better allow you to assess how your students performed in each NCL event.

We’ve renamed the “Coach Pairing Link” to “Coach Observation Link” to reduce confusion: coach pairing doesn’t automatically register students for the season; they are distinct processes. If you have existing instructions for your students that include references to that link, be sure to update them in time for the Fall 2020 season.

New Competition Category: Forensics

Last, but certainly not least, the change that the Player Ambassadors have been the most excited to get to talk about, this season Cyber Skyline is introducing a brand new category! This season, Cyber Skyline will be incorporating Wireless Access Exploitation into Network Traffic Analysis and will be introducing a new category: Forensics.

In the new Forensics category, you will be tasked with utilizing the proper tools and techniques to analyze, process, recover, and/or investigate digital evidence in a computer-related incident.

Cyber Skyline is not removing WiFi challenges. However, instead of being in their own category, you will now find them inside the Network Traffic Analysis category. This change is in response to feedback that the Wireless Access Exploitation category has felt the same every season. We agree – this is the most specific category within NCL and is really just a subset of Network Traffic Analysis.

We hope you’re as excited for all these changes as the PAs are! If you have any questions about these changes, reach out to Cyber Skyline through their Slack channel or submit a support ticket.

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