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To the keyboards! Coast Guard cadets exercise in cyber warfare

Coast Guard Academy cadets test out virtual reality tools as part of a cyber warfare exercise.
Brian Scott-Smith
WSHU Public Radio
Coast Guard Academy cadets test out virtual reality tools as part of a cyber warfare exercise.

Cadets from the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, are engaged in a cyber war. It’s a three-day exercise and competition organized by the National Security Agency.

The annual event pits various military academies and public universities against each other to see who can defend against a cyberattack.

Raymond Brown, a cybersecurity instructor with the NSA, said the event aims to give students real world experience.

“What it’s intended to do is to give the individual students through different universities, in particular the academies, an opportunity to test offensive/defensive techniques that they have learned during their curriculums in a safe environment where they can all learn and play together and at the same time while they’re growing themselves professionally from the capacity of an operator. It’s building the networks of individuals that they are going to share the rest of their career with,” he said.

The virtual competition that ends Saturday is the culmination of a year-long exercise for the students.

“In some aspects we have more responsibility for the defense and education and the engagement than the other services do. So, we absolutely are taking this very very seriously,” said Lieutenant Ryan Quarry, an instructor at the Coast Guard Academy.

Quarry said the lessons the cadets learn help in their daily missions.

“We’re very much about protecting the homeland and recently we’ve taken steps to kind of introduce new thinking in the Coast Guard. We’re talking about the all-encompassing aspect of what we call the maritime transportation system or the MTS,” he said.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.