Air Force cadets take 2nd place in NSA cyber exercise

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The Air Force Academy took second place at the conclusion of the 14th annual National Security Administration inter-service Cyber Defense Exercise, or CDX, here April 8 - 11.

"I'm extremely proud of how well our cadets performed during the exercise," said Dr. Martin Carlisle, the director of the Academy Center for Cyberspace Research. "We made the red team really work hard. The cadets learned a tremendous amount building the network during the exercise."

The U.S. Military Academy edged the Air Force team to win this year's CDX for their seventh time. Participants also included U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and the Royal Military College of Canada. the Air Force team has placed high over the last four years, placing second in 2011 and winning first place in 2012 and 2013.

The competition required the cadets to build an enterprise network from scratch, including email, web, voice-over-internet and file transfer services. During the exercise, cadets defended the network against NSA (red-team members), solved a forensics challenge and secured a vulnerable webserver.

Senior cadets in the Computer Sciences 468 Secure Networks course built the the Academy's network, with support from the USAFA Cyber Competition Team and Cyber Warfare Club. The team was able to hold off the NSA red team the longest and was the last team the NSA managed to compromise.

Maj. David Caswell and Maj. Mike Chiaramonte teach the Computer Science 468 Secure Networks course and advised the team. Carlisle, U.S. Air Force Academy Cyber Competition Team coach, led contributions from the Cyber Team.

"Their outstanding performance demonstrates the Air Force Academy's continued commitment to producing leaders for the cyber domain with significant technical expertise," Carlisle said.

The Air Force Academy Cyber Competition team will next compete at the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in San Antonio, April 25-27. This is the fourth year in a row that the Academy has advanced to nationals, and they will be the only service academy this year to compete there.

Competing for Academy were: Cadets 1st Class Don Andreas, Stephen Baker, Justin Bergman, Christian Brechbuhl, Dustin Bridges, Theresa Cameron, Matt Chavez, Hannah Cox, Brandon Daley, Jason Dark, Gavin Delphia, Jean-Luc Duckworth, Jonathan Eng, Michael Gallagher, Alex Grubbs, Chris Haley, Thomas Jividen, David Kendall, Sam Kiekhaefer, Chase King, Holden Lanier, Keane Lucas, Chris McBride, Craig McElwrath, Samuel Sasser, Cydney Schirmer, Erik Schweiss, Ray Sou, Chad Speer, Nicholas Stryker, Alex Thomson, Emerson Woerner, Roman Young, Ryan Zacher, Cadets 2nd Class Matt Aust, Bill Parks, Zach Madison, Kevin Cooper, Cameron Smith, Lillian Warner, Cadets 3rd Class Josh Hayden, Justin Niquette, CJ Edwards, Eric Wardner and Cadet 4th Class Alex Fulton.

(Information provided by U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs)