The United States Naval Academy (USNA) took top honors over each of the five U.S. service academies in the Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX), a one-of-a-kind training tool designed to prepare these students to protect and defend the nation's critical information systems.
The CDX is just one example of NSA's strong academic partnerships. The exercise serves as a culminating experience of the Information Assurance (IA) curriculum at each of the academies. This year's victors put together an outstanding performance that was second to none.
The exercise scenario challenges each academy's team to design, build, and configure a real-world computer network simulating a deployed joint service command. A network offensive operations team (Red Team), composed of NSA and Department of Defense personnel, then identifies the vulnerabilities and attempts intrusions on each network over a four-day period. Teams are evaluated on maintaining services, as well as their efforts at detecting, responding to, and recovering from network security breaches. Students learn IA strategies and risk management techniques. The CDX brings practical experience into the classroom.
This year's competition was more challenging than ever; however, the strength and flexibility of the U.S. Naval Academy's network design gave them an edge. The U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Military Academy tied for runners-up honors and the defending 2004 champions, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy teams performed admirably, as well.
All participants should be applauded for their work on this exercise. Each school put forth an incredible effort to maintain services while constantly being challenged by the Red Team and being required to adapt to planned injects that simulated environment changes.
Each year, the exercise grows and improves. The level of competition has exponentially grown over the last three years, proving the exercise is making a direct impact on the preparedness of our nation's future military leaders. Based on feedback from the schools, this year's set of injects provided great value to the learning experience. Of course, we are already thinking of ways to improve the exercise for the future.
USNA will be presented with the NSA Information Assurance Director's Trophy at a later date. The trophy will remain at the academy until next year's exercise.
For more information about previous CDXs and NSA's educational outreach, visit NSA.gov.