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Apr 23, 2013 12:16 PM by Kirsten Bennett

Air Force Academy wins NSA cyber defense title

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo., - The Air Force Academy has won the National Security Agency's Cyber Defense Exercise for the second year in a row, outscoring teams from other military academies in the U.S. and Canada.

The CDX is a large-scale computer network defense competition to see which team of students can design, implement, and maintain a fully functioning computer network that is attacked by Air Force and NSA "Red Teams." The cyber exercise has been recognized nation-wide for the realistic and valuable training it provides our participants on the cyberspace battlefield.

Cadets in the Computer Sciences 468 Secure Networks course and members of the USAFA Cyber Competition Team competed in the 13th annual inter-service Cyber Defense Exercise, April 16-18. This NSA-run competition required the cadets to build an enterprise network from scratch, including email, web, VOIP and file transfer services. During the exercise, cadets defended the network against NSA red-team members, solved a forensics challenge, and secured a vulnerable bookstore webserver.

"Our second consecutive victory in the Cyber Defense Exercise is a result of the incredible dedication and hard work of our cadets," said Dr. Carlisle. "They understand the critical role cyber plays in our nation's defense, and are proactively learning as much as they can so they will be outstanding leaders in this domain," said Dr. Martin Carlisle, who coached the cyber team, taught the Network Security Class and is director of the Academy Center for Cyberspace Research.

The entire exercise was conducted on virtual, private networks, providing a safe path for the exercise while preventing interference with real-world networks.

Cadet 1st Class Michael Winstead led the USAFA effort, supported by Cadets 1st Class Frank Adkins, Matt Bailey, Ismael Barragan, Jon Beabout, Alex Beveridge, Andre Brito, Josh Christman, Rob Guiler, Nathan Hart, Matt Howard, Peter Jackson, Luke Jones, Kris Kalau, Josiah Lane, Brandon Leet, Matt Melhado, Carl Morgan, Gage Parrott, Ben Payne, Chris Probasco, Ken Sample, James Simons, Brennan Sweeney, Katie Tiedemann, Elliott Unseth, Ramon Villanueva, Taylor Watson, Zach Zeitlin, Cadets 2nd Class Chase King, Keane Lucas, Chad Speer, Ryan Zacher, Cadets 3rd Class Kevin Cooper, Bill Parks, Evan Richter and Clay West. The team was coached by Dr. Carlisle, with assistance from Majors David Merritt, Michael Chiaramonte and David Caswell, 2nd Lt. Jacob Blasbalg and Mr. Sean Harris.

The USAFA team will be awarded the NSA Director's Trophy for Information Assurance at a future date.

That trophy has made its rounds through most of the service academies, with the Air Force Academy earning it in 2012. Previous winners were the Naval Academy in 2005 and 2010, the Merchant Marine Academy in 2004, the Air Force Academy in 2003, 2006 and 2012, and U.S. Military Academy in 2001, 2002, 2007-2009 and 2011.

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