Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Briefing on the Cybersecurity Excercise

A Military Affairs Committee meeting was held by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber entitled “An Update from Ft. Lewis”. Along with presentations from Col. Cynthia Murphy, Garrison Commander and Mark San Souci, Regional Liaison for Military Families, DoD-State Liaison Office, (who gave updates on the base and discussed Pay Day Lender laws respectively), I gave an update on the Cybersecurity Exercise that was conducted a little over a month ago.

Sponsored jointly by West Point, Fort Lewis and the University of Washington Tacoma, the day-long event brought in students from multiple locations where they were lead by Lt. Colonel Ron Dodge from USMA West Point through a series of cyber attack/defense exercises.

West Point gave the participants some preliminary materials to practice with so that the students who were invited would be familiar with the scenario. This way each team would have at least one member who was comfortable with the equipment.

The students brought the necessary ID and met to carpool in order to minimize the number of cars driven on to the base. When they arrived, they formed groups and were given a pod of workstations that comprised a small network. The networks had some security problems that each group had to discover and secure. After giving the groups some time to secure three high powered workstations and six monitors, the people from West Point started attacking.

Don McLane, lecturer at the Institute of Technology, was the organizer of the UWT contingent and deserves credit for how well the students did. He teaches TCSS 431 (Network Security) which covers “cryptographic methods including public and private key algorithms. It examines protocols that utilize such methods, such as secure email, digital signatures, authorization, e-voting, and electronic cash. The course includes a lab component for demonstration of security techniques such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and virtual private networks.”

He reports “Everyone learned…even me, so we’ll be better prepared next time.” And that “Fort Lewis provided an EXCEPTIONAL environment.”.

Also there was Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Director, Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (CIAC), University of Washington who said “Don did a great job..His group was given special mention for their success with the exercise. There were between 60-70 people there. Huge group."

Next time the exercise will be part of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, so Don intends to have an official team prepared for that. Given this years challenge was more difficult that the year before, the expectation is for the difficulty to be further increased yet again next year.

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