The U.S. Military Academy is the victor in this year's Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX), sponsored by the National Security Agency/Central Security Service Information Assurance Directorate. An annual event, the exercise tests and evaluates the knowledge and ability of cadets and midshipmen enrolled in computer science programs at the Armed Forces Service Academies. What's almost as important as winning for cadets and midshipmen? Teamwork.
"In addition to promoting teamwork at the service academies themselves," said Tony Sager, of NSA's Information Assurance Directorate, "the Cyber Defense Exercise enables the teams to learn from the most accomplished professionals in information assurance at NSA. We recognize the great importance of partnering with the military service academies to mold the military's future cyber defenders."
The CDX, held this year at a Lockheed Martin facility in Hanover, Md., allows the five service academies and select service post-graduate schools to engage in a hands-on experience in configuring and defending their networks against cyber attack. Behind the scenes, network professionals from NSA, the Army Reserve Information Operations Center, U.S. Army's 1st Information Operations Command, U.S. Marine Corps Network Operations Security Center, and the National Threat Operations Center comprise Red and White cells to combat (Red) and to support (White) the teams.
The exercise provides future information assurance leaders with an opportunity to apply real world information assurance principles of operations and security, and demonstrate their skills in information assurance. It also gives them the opportunity to learn some of the network status reporting and leadership decisions that will be required of them after graduation.
"The CDX is a unique opportunity to learn in a controlled environment, using cutting edge technology with the ultimate goal to defend the Nation's critical infrastructure," said Sager. "And, despite the intense competition, everyone has a great time."
The CDX involves participation-much of it volunteer-from across the country in months of planning and the construction of a network not connected to any existing NSA systems. Faculty members at the service academies collaborate extensively with Red/White cells.
Sager said that he is gratified that all of the teams were more accomplished this year than last, making it more challenging for Red and White cells. "We see it as a good sign that we are challenged, too," concluded Sager. "It says we're doing it right."
The highly coveted Director's Trophy will reside at West Point until a new victor is declared during next year's CDX. For more information about the exercise, visit NSA's website at NSA.gov.