The National Security Agency held a cyber competition last week to test service academy students’ skills in defending computer networks from simulated threats, Bloomberg reports.
Students from the Army, Navy, Merchant Marine and Coast Guard academies participated in the event held at Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Hanover, Md. facility.
During the three-day competition, military service members and NSA participants played the role of the hackers on a 40-member team.
Additional participants were split into two teams: one to defend the network and another to play the role of network users.
A team of referees oversaw the competition and set boundaries for attacks and defense measures, according to Bloomberg.
The company and the agency made a live stream of the students participating available to watch.
Younger military officers who grew up with Facebook and Twitter have a better understanding of technology, according to Tony Sager, NSA’s chief operating officer for the information assurance directorate.
Sager founded the competition in 2000.
Future commanders have a cyber appreciation and understanding of the vulnerabilities to technology better than some of the more senior military personnel, Sager said.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta shared a similar view, calling academy students the “weapon of the future” for defending computer networks.
The Air Force Academy was ranked best in defending their network this year.
Earlier this month, high school students competed in a cross-country cyber defense event where Northrop Grumman recruited interns.