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Press Release | April 11, 2014

U.S. Military Academy Wins NSAs 14th Annual Cyber Defense Exercise

The U.S. Military Academy won the 2014 Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX), its seventh coveted trophy since the annual competition began in 2001, the NSA announced today.

Students from the U.S. service academies, including the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy pitted their cybersecurity skills, tenacity, and ingenuity against the National Security Agency's top information assurance professionals. NSA's Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) sponsors the annual event.

"The CDX is an advanced cyber skill building exercise, unique in its breadth, and of vital importance in developing hands-on cyber defense skills within the U.S. military," said Neal Ziring, IAD's Technical Director.

Cyber warriors who assess and defend the U.S. government's most sensitive communication systems challenged service academy teams to protect networks designed, built, and configured at the competing schools. Working at the Parson's facility in Columbia, Md., another group of specialists graded each team's ability to effectively maintain network services while detecting, responding to, and recovering from security intrusions and compromises.

"It (CDX) focused on a key concern of military commanders - keeping network services running in the face of enemy attack," Ziring said. "CDX offers military academy students from the U.S. and Canada an opportunity to put classroom learning, experience, and creativity into practice against full-time professional attackers (NSA and Service Red Cells) in a multi-day, competitively scored event. It is also the longest-running event of its kind in the world, and an original model for many of the collegiate and private competitions that are popular today," Ziring added.

Ziring also noted the value of the training that the CDX offered to participants.

"Getting hands-on experience, both in hardening a network and then in analyzing and adapting to an adversary, is absolutely essential for the military leaders of tomorrow. Once they've been through an exercise like CDX, they haven't just read about being under attack, they've felt it. And that is the best thing for them to bring into their military careers defending our nation."

The Naval Postgraduate School and the Royal Military College of Canada also participated in the exercise but did not compete for the trophy. The entire April 8-10 exercise was conducted on virtual private networks.

CDX Trophy Winners Since the First Competition

Date CDX Winner
2001 U.S. Military Academy (USMA)
2002 USMA
2003 U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA)
2004 U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA)
2005 U.S. Naval Academy (USNA)
2006 USAFA
2007 USMA
2008 USMA
2009 USMA
2010 USNA
2011 USMA
2012 USAFA
2013 USAFA
2014 USMA