DES Duo Nabs 3rd Place in Fortinet Security Challenge

With the clock ticking, Jeff Wirtz and Will Turk entered a virtual lab environment and were given three hours to complete a vast array of cybersecurity objectives.
Aug 30, 2021

DES networking engineers Jeff Wirtz and Will Turk recently attended Fortinet’s XPERTS Summit in Orlando. The five days of in-person, hands-on training covered today’s hottest cybersecurity topics from Security-Driven Networking, Adaptive Cloud Security, Security Operations and Zero Trust Access.


The summit culminated in a race against the clock to secure a virtual lab environment. Each pair of 50 contestants entered a virtual lab environment and was given three hours to complete a vast array of cybersecurity objectives.


With the clock ticking, Jeff and Will sped through the virtual office, located their mission from the CISO (Chief Information Security Officer), set up a security fabric to provide a unified foundation for the network architecture, discovered key managers in the virtual board room who told them about their remote worker policies, zipped to the corporation’s second branch to set up their NOC (Network Operations Center) and firewalls, and raced to the finish line with iron-clad cybersecurity in place.


A crucial component to the lab challenge was the implementation of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). In today’s hybrid office environment, people access the network both onsite and offsite. To do this safely, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides offsite employees with a secure connection into the company network—and once safely inside, the employees can use all software applications. ZTNA is an evolution of a VPN. If an offsite employee wishes to use a third-party cloud application like Microsoft Teams or Adobe Creative Suite, rather than tunneling the employee into the company network and afterwards connecting the employee to Teams, the ZTNA provides a secure connection to Teams directly. This is because the ZTNA is designed to secure the software application layer—not only the network layer. One benefit to ZTNA is that it frees up the company’s network bandwidth by handling these remote applications independently.


The prize for winning 3rd place? A sweet $50 cash card. And a public accolade to the duo’s deep knowledge of leading cybersecurity systems.