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Call of Cyber Duty: Military Academies Take on Nsa


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A cadet checks computers at the Cyber Research Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.,

The NSA's annual Cyber Defense Exercise has the five U.S. military service academies competing to create computer networks that can best withstand cyberthreats.

Credit: Mel Evans/AP

The U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) annual Cyber Defense Exercise determines which of the five U.S. military service academies can create computer networks that can best withstand cyberthreats.

The exercise mirrors the military's broader strategy of staying ahead of the curve in cyber operations, and motivates cadets to test their computer skills against their peers.

"This is the Army-Navy game for our electrical engineering and computer science departments...this is our chance to beat the other service academies," says Army cadet Jason DeCoursey.

The exercise is essentially a high-tech game of capture the flag in which the NSA team attempts to capture "tokens" embedded in the academies' networks. The academies for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines compete against each other, and the one that does the best job fending off the barrage of cyberattacks is declared the winner.

The contest helps train cadets who want to specialize in cyber operations, a part of the military that is increasing in importance. For example, the new Army Cyber Institute aims to become a national resource for research, education, and advice on cyberdefense and operations.

From Associated Press
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