Each year, Col. Joe Adams, Ph.D., trains a group of select incoming cadets in the basic military attack principles—in cyberspace.
Adams, an assistant professor and research scientist in West Point’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, gave an overview of his training at Fordham’s ICCS 2009 conference on Wednesday. His computer science curriculum culminates each spring with a final cyber defense exercise (CDX), a contest among five U.S. service academies—the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (USMA), the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
At West Point, cadets don fatigues and sit at a computer terminal surrounded by camouflage netting for the grueling four-day-long final exam. There, they battle repeated enemy penetrations—unexpected pop-ups, new users that persistently reappear, and system software shutdowns. In the crawl-walk-run method of military training, Adams says, “this is the run part.”
The next cyber battle is scheduled for April 21, and Adams claims bragging rights, legitimately. The USMA has beaten out all of the other participants in four of the eight years since the cyber-battles began in 2000.
“These cadets like to win,” he said.