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United States Merchant Marine Academy Participates in Cyber Defense Exercise

KINGS POINT, N.Y., April 16, 2014 -  Midshipmen in the Cyber Defense Club at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point participated in the 2014 Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX) which was held last week (April 7 – April 11).  CDX is sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) and brings together the National Security Agency's top information assurance professionals and Midshipmen and Cadets from our nation’s five Service Academies in a competitive, hands-on, realistic, team-based environment, which is designed to enhance the abilities of the nation’s brightest, future military leaders to meet the challenges of safe computing.

In preparation, each school created a network of computers, servers, routers, and switches to provide an array of services you would use in your office. Once each Academy was connected to the NSA via a router, the challenge of keeping the NSA out of their network began. Over the course of four very intense days, participants had to fend off computer attacks from the NSA.

Students manned the lab from 0800 – 2100.  Most exercise attacks occurred during the regular academic day, with a an afternoon briefing to discuss the technical issues that occurred during the exercise.  After 1600, students quickly rebuilt the compromised network and worked on protecting the system from the next morning’s expected attack.  Attacks continued through Thursday afternoon, which tested to each participant’s intellectual and physical limits.  USMMA participated with only 9 students. “Our team was thoroughly exhausted at the end of the competition, as they were also  attending classes and managing other Academic responsibilities throughout the week.”, said LCDR David Pulis, CDX Club Advisor and Assistant Professor of Marine Engineering. “Despite many challenges we did very well,  next year we expect to compete and give the other academies a run for the trophy.”

MIDN Decker, 4/c added, “My experience in the 2014 Cyber Defense Exercise was amazing yet humbling. Though I was severely lacking in internet technology capabilities and understanding, I learned more than I could have ever wished for. Our success as a team, perhaps not outwardly apparent, was solely due to combined talents and enduring passion.”

In the end, the winning team was from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.

Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014