The Air Force Academy snatched top honors among U.S. Service Academies that recently competed in the National Security Agency-sponsored Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX), April 10-14 2006. Though the top score was in actuality earned by a team of savvy graduate students from the Air Force Institute of Technology who participated on a graded, but non-competitive basis, the Cadets of the Air Force Academy were the recipients of the formal competitive honors among participating service academy teams that also included the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.
The 6th annual exercise pitted teams of future military leaders representing the Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine service academies against highly skilled NSA and military network experts who sought to expose network vulnerabilities and exploit weaknesses in order to raise awareness about the critical importance of strong information assurance practices.
This year, the NSA heightened the challenge even before the competition had commenced by providing each team with software that had been pre-configured with known vulnerabilities. Each team was then expected to conduct a forensic analysis of the software to root out potential problems that might later threaten the security and performance of their networks.
Runner-up honors went this year to the cadets of West Point, followed in third place by last year's winner, the U.S. Naval Academy. The Coast Guard and Merchant Marine teams finished fourth and fifth place respectively.
Bragging rights aside, all participants learned quickly to adapt despite numerous challenges imposed by exercise controllers and seize the opportunity to learn practical lessons in a controlled environment.
The NSA's Information Assurance Director, Dick Schaeffer, who announced the winner in a conference call to academies on April 21, is scheduled to visit the academy soon to award the coveted Information Assurance Trophy to the Air Force's Falcon team.
"This was one incredible team effort, from the red cell to the cadets and midshipmen who participated, but the real beneficiaries are the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are on the tip of the spear that support the network and depend on it," he concluded.
For more information, refer to the Air Force Academy's news release on the victory, or contact Ken White, NSA Public Affairs, at (301) 688-6524.