A team from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy participated in the National Security Agency’s 21st annual National Cyber Exercise (NCX), a cyber competition that tests offensive and defensive cybersecurity skills, held virtually March 31 to April 2.

More than 200 women and men from U.S. service academies and senior military colleges as well as civilian interns from NSA’s cyber-focused development programs participated in the three-day competition designed to develop and test cybersecurity skills.

The four exercise modules simulated real-world challenges in cyber policy, cryptography, software development, and malware analysis while culminating a full attack-and-defend cyber combat event. 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.

“This exercise is an opportunity for our cadets who represent tomorrow’s Service cyber leaders to apply what they have learned at the Academy and identify areas for improvement,” said Dr. Paul Crilly, Electrical Engineering and Cyber Systems program chair at the Coast Guard Academy. “We are proud of their dedication and performance in this year’s NCX and look forward to the amazing things they will do after graduation.”

This year, the Coast Guard Academy will commission its first Cyber Systems graduates to meet the needs of the services cybersecurity strategy of defending cyber space, enabling operations, and protecting infrastructure. This major provides graduates with strong computing skills and technical ability to meet the present and future needs of the Coast Guard cyber mission.

The Coast Guard has a long-standing mission of protecting the U.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.

More information about Coast Guard cyber operations and missions can be found here.