The United States Air Force Academy took top honors today 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 (USMA), pits a team of cadets from each academy against NSA's security experts. This year's victors - the U.S. Air Force Academy - put together an outstanding performance that was second to none.
Each student team was challenged to securely configure a network of computers to service users both locally and remotely. This exercise environment was created to represent coalition information sharing. The students entered into direct cyber combat with "Red Forces" in an effort to keep their systems on-line and running. Teams were evaluated on maintaining services, as well as their efforts to recover from and prevent future security breaches.
The winning team - from among the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy - is presented the NSA Information Assurance Director's Trophy during graduation week.
This year's competition was the closest to date. A single-system compromise was the difference between a determined Air Force team and the two-time defending champions, the U.S. Military Academy. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and the U.S. Naval Academy performed admirably as well. The level of competition has exponentially grown over the last three years. This is evidence that this exercise is making a direct impact to the preparedness of future military leaders.