Launched by West Point and formalized in 2001, the annual Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX) pits representatives from the military service academies defending a computer network against a “Red Team” staffed by some of the more devious people from the National Security Agency (NSA) and the military services.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy – the smallest and without a computer science department – has managed to hold its own in competitions and win it in 2004, beating its better-funded and organized brothers at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), the Air Force Academy, and the Naval Academy.
How’d the Merchant Marine u-grads do it? Team adviser and assistant professor Efstratios Gavas will tell all at DEFCON 17 this year in “Asymmetric Defense: How to Fight Off the NSA Red Team with Five People or Less.” While West Point more recently had a monopoly on the CDX trophy in recent years, Gavas should have good insights for any IT security professional looking to tighten the network at home.
Kudos should also be extended to the Information Assurance staff at West Point. The Army’s professors have championed cybersecurity wayyyy way back at the undergraduate level for both military and civilian higher education. If the Chinese or Russians decide to play mean on the Internet, West Point’s influence will be involved in the defense.