Military Embedded Systems

NSA crowns U.S. Military Academy in 16th cyberdefense exercise


April 18, 2016

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

NSA crowns U.S. Military Academy in 16th cyberdefense exercise

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. National Security Agency (NSA) officials announced the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as the winner of the NSA's 16th Annual Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX). NSA's CDX - sponsored by NSA's Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) - challenged service academy teams to protect networks that were designed, built, and configured at their respective schools.

NSA specialists working out of the Parsons facility in Columbia, Maryland graded each team's ability to effectively maintain network services while detecting, responding to, and recovering from security intrusions and compromises. “It is an exercise where the participants put theory and classroom instruction into practice,” says Kim Beam, an Information Assurance Directorate senior leader.

Participants - included cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, and the Royal Military College of Canada - tested against the NSA’s top information assurance professionals.

“During the week the participants – who are focusing on keeping their network services available and running – experience real cyberattacks and their impacts. The academies build networks and defend them from real attacks by exercise ‘hackers,’” says Beam. “CDX provides a competition that increases the participants’ cyber defense skills. Defensive skills and insights are gained not only by the network defenders, but also by those playing offense during the exercise. They’ll go back to defending networks post CDX.”

The students’ analytic skills were also tested through three challenge modules. The winners of the modules are: U.S. Naval Academy for the Malware Analysis/Reverse Engineering challenge; U.S. Military Academy for the Host and Network Forensics challenge; The Royal Military College of Canada graduate team and The Royal Military College of Canada undergraduate team tied for the Offensive Ethical Hacking challenge.

Previous winners are:

  • U.S. Naval Academy in 2015
  • U.S. Military Academy in 2014
  • U.S. Air Force Academy in 2013

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