The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) took top honors recently 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.
CDX, born of a joint effort between the National Security Agency (NSA) and the United States Military Academy at West Point, pits a team of cadets from each academy against NSA's security experts. This year's victors put together an outstanding performance that was second to none.
The exercise 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, 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 to recover from and prevent future security breaches.
This year's competition was tighter than ever; however, the strength and flexibility of USMMA's network design gave them an edge over the defending 2003 champions, the U.S. Air Force Academy. West Point (former two-time winner), U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and U.S. Naval Academy teams performed admirably, as well. 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.
USMMA will be presented with the NSA Information Assurance Director's Trophy during graduation week. The trophy will remain at the academy until next year's exercise.