April 20th, 2012
05:16 PM ET

Cadets and Midshipmen square off on the virtual battlefield

By Pam Benson

The intense rivalry among the nation's military service academies extends well beyond the playing fields. It's deep down in the internet.

This week, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy in Maryland, the Air Force Academy in Colorado and the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut squared off in the annual competition to determine who wins the coveted trophy as chief geeks.

The arena was the super secret National Security Agency's Cyber Defense Exercise. For four days, around the clock, the cadets and midshipmen tried to match wits with the nation's top cyber experts.

The NSA 'red teams' bombarded the students with malware of all types as each academy tried to defend its own network and score the most points.

The overall goal: to give them a nearly real life experience of using the tools they have learned as computer science and information technology majors to identify and defend against cyber attacks.

As the nation's future military leaders, the ability to master information technology and protect critical information systems is key to fighting and preventing modern day wars.

It was quite a challenge for both the students and the NSA cyber masters.

Security Clearance paid a visit to the Naval Academy in Annapolis to see first hand how the midshipmen were coping and then stopped by to witness the NSA sleuths as they launched their attacks during the virtual competition.

Final Results: Sorry Navy... Air Force won the trophy followed by West Point, Navy and sitting in last place, the Coast Guard

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Filed under: Cybersecurity • Military
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