http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledgerenquirer/news/nation/3129029.htm By JOHN DIEDRICH The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Apr. 24, 2002 COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The military's might increasingly depends on computers, but that created a target for the enemy. Air Force Academy cadets are finding out this week how hard it can be to protect computers from bad guys. They are playing defense against some of the best hackers: computer experts from military and intelligence agencies. It's the second annual Cyber Defense Exercise, a competition involving the Air Force Academy, the Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy, the Coast Guard Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School. Students at each school are being attacked by the professionals and scored on how well they defend their systems. The competition began Monday and ends Friday. Computer defense is critical for the military, which has 2 1/2 million computers and is finding the number of cyber attacks is exploding. In 2000, there were more than 23,000 attempted attacks, but officials refuse to say who was attacking. Last year, attacks jumped to more than 41,000, said Army Maj. Barry Venable, spokesman for Colorado Springs-based U.S. Space Command, which oversees computer defense. Attacks are up, but the military has gotten better at defending their systems, Venable said. "We have information superiority," he said. In a classroom at the Air Force Academy, 20 cadets are learning how to have that superiority. Two weeks ago they were given 13 computers and told to build defenses for them. The computers were typical of the computers sold to consumers, full of holes that can be targeted by hackers to capture systems. These computer science and computer engineering majors built such defenses as firewalls and e-mail protections, and studied hacking tools. For many of the cadets in the exercise, it's the first time they have applied their book knowledge to defending computers. "It's raw experience you can't get in the classroom," Steven Norris, a 21-year-old senior, said Tuesday. "You have to make mistakes. It's like a mechanic learning to fix a car in a book. You have to touch a car." Norris and some of his classmates spent five hours or more a day in the lab this week, monitoring and responding to attacks by the "red forces." By late Tuesday, the aggressors successfully broke into one of the cadets' systems, costing them points in the competition. Cadet Jay Ford, 22, a senior, plans to fly jets, but he finds value in the exercise. "The problem is always there. Computer security needs to be a mindset, not just a series of practices," he said. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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