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Thursday, December 8, 2022

NSA Exercise to Help Train Service Academy Students in Secure Network Operations

A 5-day information assurance (IA) exercise this week (April 13–17) run by the National Security Agency (NSA) is being hosted by the Parsons Group at its cyber center in Columbia, Maryland to help train students from the US service academies and the Royal Military College of Canada in secure network operations.

Parsons Group is a technology-driven engineering services firm with expertise in defense, intelligence, and cybersecurity.

According to the announcement, “This hands-on, realistic, team-oriented event, formally known as the Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX), is being [conducted] by NSA as part of its commitment to raising awareness among the military’s future leaders about IA challenges and the inherent vulnerabilities of a net-centric world.”

“As we continue to grow and evolve our cyber and intelligence expertise, we are pleased to again host NSA’s annual exercise to train the best and the brightest young minds to protect confidential data and other sensitive information,” said Parsons Group President Mary Ann Hopkins. “Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and we are proud to play a role in this friendly competition and important learning opportunity.”

“CDX is the nation’s premier cybersecurity challenge, bringing together more than 100 students from the US service academies and the Royal Military College of Canada,” the announcement stated, noting that, “During the exercise, network specialists tasked with securing the US government’s most sensitive communication systems will challenge service academy teams in their ability to defend computer networks the students have designed, built and configured at their respective schools.”

The entire CDX is conducted on a virtual private network, providing a safe path for the exercise while preventing interference with real-world networks. A separate group of specialists will grade each team’s ability to effectively maintain network services while detecting, responding to, and recovering from network security intrusions or compromises. The winning team will be announced on Friday, April 17.

CDX is one example of NSA’s broad IA partnership program, which stimulates interest in IA and advocates for improvements to IA education, training, and awareness. For more information about CDX 2015, contact NSA’s Public and Media Affairs Office via phone at (301) 688-6524 or by email at nsapao@nsa.gov.

In addition to hosting CDX for the second year in a row, Parsons said it “is also providing technical support for CDX preparation and execution. Parsons’ government services business unit currently serves a broad range of national security customers—including NSA and other key defense and intelligence agencies—in mission-critical technical support, training and program management.

The firm just recently opened a second state-of-the-art cyber space in Centreville, Virginia called the Cyber Solutions Center, which the company said “enables Parsons to emulate customer architectures, security vulnerabilities and risk posture and provide testing and demonstrations to enhance and protect the security of customer operating environments.

The center is a key component of the company’s Cyber Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative, Parsons said.

“Since acquiring SPARTA, Inc., in 2011 and Secure Mission Solutions in 2014, Parsons has greatly enhanced its cybersecurity capabilities, and we’re excited to add the Cyber Solutions Center as an innovative dimension with the potential to enable better and more effective customer decisions about how to manage cyber risks,” said Chuck Harrington, Parsons’ chairman and CEO.

“Parsons’ new Cyber Solutions Center will provide an important resource for government and industry leaders whose job is to safeguard our nation’s data and critical infrastructure against a sophisticated cadre of cyber enemies,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “If we are to win this new cyber war, it is imperative that those of us in the federal government work closely with private industry to identify our vulnerabilities, share information, and develop the best possible defenses.”

Parsons said its “hands-on laboratory provides the ability to demonstrate and analyze theoperational technology networks, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and industrial control systems (ICS) that control all critical infrastructure, building systems, manufacturing systems, medical treatment facilities, water and wastewater and more. The center enables the development of integrated, actionable solutions tailored to customer-specific risk environments. Using advanced network simulation provided by partner SCALABLE Network echnologies, the new Parsons center can replicate SCADA/ICS networks with connectivity to equipment or control systems and fully evaluate cyber effects on them.”

“Parsons has a unique perspective on the cybersecurity challenges faced by both government and commercial organizations today. We have been designing, building, and sustaining elements of critical infrastructure for more than 70 years,” said Phil Lacombe, Parsons’ vice president and Information Systems and Security Sector manager. “Our position as a trusted advisor to our customers, coupled with our deep cybersecurity and network operations expertise, provides a technology agnostic view of the cybersecurity requirements and solutions needed by our customers. Our goal is to enable our customers to make better investment decisions—based on demonstrated performance.”


Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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