A team from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy participated in the National Security Agency’s 20th annual National Cyber Exercise (NCX), a three-day cyber competition that tests the offensive and defensive cybersecurity skills virtually, April 8-10, 2021. The Coast Guard Academy recently instituted a Cyber Systems degree to meet the needs of the services cyber security strategy of defending cyber space, enabling operations, and protecting infrastructure. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Hunter Medley)

Coast Guard Academy Participates in 2021 NSA Cyber Exercise

A team from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy participated in the National Security Agency’s 20th annual National Cyber Exercise (NCX), a cyber competition that tests offensive and defensive cybersecurity skills, held virtually April 8-10.

More than 200 women and men participated from U.S. Service Academies and Senior Military Colleges as well as civilian interns from NSA’s cyber-focused development programs in the three-day competition designed to develop and test cybersecurity skills.

During this year’s exercise, Coast Guard Academy cadets engaged with NSA personnel to execute and evaluate cyber mission strategies and complete cyber operation scenarios in real-time. Exercise scenarios included challenges that tested skills in forensics, cyber policy, cryptography, reverse engineering as well as attack-and-defend cyber exercise.

“The competition is an opportunity to build upon skills taught in academic classes such as cryptography, software reverse engineering, and digital forensics,” said Lt. Ryan Quarry, Cyber Systems instructor at the Coast Guard Academy. “Participating in NCX allows future cyber leaders of our service to stop malicious activity designed to disrupt, degrade, or destroy the nation’s critical maritime infrastructure.”

NCX demands that cadets exercise their training to operate effectively in teams as well as communicate and make decisions while evaluating complex technical data points.

Cyberattacks are invisible hazards that are capable of inflicting real physical damage. These threats target the infrastructure, information systems, networks, and personal devices we rely on every day.

The U.S. Coast Guard has a long-standing mission of protecting America’s maritime transportation system and critical infrastructure, as well as those who work on and live near the water. Cyberspace is an operational domain that integrates information and intelligence in support of Coast Guard operations.

The Coast Guard Academy recently instituted a Cyber Systems major to meet the needs of the service’s cybersecurity strategy of defending cyberspace, enabling operations, and protecting infrastructure. The major provides graduates with the computing skills and technical ability to meet the needs of the Coast Guard cyber mission.

Since 2001, the NSA has hosted the team-against-team competition that develops and tests teamwork, planning, communication and decision-making skills of the next generation of cyber talent.

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