NSA Completes Full-Spectrum Cyber Operations Exercise With Military Academies

The National Security Agency (NSA) has completed its first ever cyber exercise testing military academy teams' ability to defend against near full-spectrum cyber operations.

NSA Cyber Exercise (NCX), which ran from March 19 to 21 at the U.S. Naval Academy, featured 12 teams from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard academies executing cyber defense strategies against simulated attacks against critical infrastructure and defense networks.

“Since 2001, NSA has tested the defensive skills of cadets and midshipmen of the U.S. Service Academies in the Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX). To stay ahead of ever-evolving cyber threats, NSA has evolved the program to test the cadets and midshipmen in near full-spectrum cyber operations,” NSA officials wrote in a statement.

Digital engineering company Parsons built the cyber attack scenarios and evaluation software used in the NCX Live Fire event, which tested the team’s ability to act as Cyber Mission Teams defending against adversarial attacks to critical infrastructure.

“The key to this event’s success was assuring the teams faced realistic scenarios that reflect the types of strategic and tactical approaches currently being employed by America’s adversaries,” Devin Elmore, Parsons vice president of national cyber programs, said in a statement. “Parsons subject matter experts gave the cadets and midshipmen a rare glimpse of what U.S. government defense and intelligence agencies face each and every day as well as a preview of what life is going to be like for them when they graduate.”

Teams were tasked with planning and execute strategies to attack simulated adversaries’ attack networks and defend their own systems and mission-critical information.

The winner of the Parsons-designed NCX Live Fire Event was the Air Force Academy’s team.

“The NSA and other government agencies we support are on the front lines of the cyber battlefield, which enables us to plan and facilitate this event using real-world, relevant challenges and the latest cyber adversary trends,” said Carey Smith, president of Parsons’ federal group, in a statement.

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