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NCDOC Wins a Federal Capture-The-Flag Competition

by Rebecca Siders
23 June 2020 Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC) participated and won the Tanium’s Federal Virtual Capture the Flag (CTF) Challenge on June 17 and18.

The CTF event is a Department of Defense (DoD)-wide competition with numerous challenges within a lab environment hosted by Tanium. Tanium’s Technical Account Manager (TAM) team assisted participants as they gather information utilizing Tanium’s endpoint management and security platform for data analysis, investigations, and enterprise risk reduction.

During the competition, each team takes on the role of Tanium operators in which they have 24 hours to hunt and investigate more than 90 challenging events, using specific data sets to analyze real-time data as well as historical forensics data in order to complete the challenges within the lab environment.

Twelve Sailors, four teams, from NCDOC represented the Navy and competed against 58 participants, 19 teams, from the other Armed Forces services, the Intel Community, and other DoD agencies.

NCDOC teams, “Ctrl Alt Elite”, “War Dolphins”, and “Just SYN It” consisting of Cryptologic Technician (Networks) petty officers, all placed in the top five winning teams, with Ctrl Alt Elite winning the competition.

Capt. Harold Cole, NCDOC commanding officer, praised the exceptional work of the NCDOC teams who participated in the event.

“We are very proud of our teams. It is reflective of our Navy cyber defenders’ talent and skillset. These kinds of competitions are fun and challenging,” said Cole. “We encourage our personnel to participate in them when possible because it is a good way to develop technical skills in cyber operations while under pressure as well as build teamwork and collaboration, all of which are critical skills in cyber defense.”

Throughout the competition, teams must think quickly and make decisions rapidly in order to defeat their opponent, mimicking real-world agility skills critical for cyber defenders who operate under pressure to identify, prioritize, and remediate risks to networks in order to sustain the mission.

The Navy finds value of CTF events to allow cyber professionals and operators, to apply their technical and analytical skills learned from a competitive event to the reality of defending the Navy’s enterprise networks.

The team captain of Ctrl Alt Elite, Cryptologic Technologist (Networks), 1st Class, and Operational Leading Petty Officer for NCDOC’s Cyber Protection Team, Kristina Meyers was proud to represent the Navy and credits her teammates’ talent for the win.

“Competing in these events allow us to keep our skills sharp and hone in on new techniques and tools that are developing. They challenge our ways of thinking and demand new solutions. My teammates, CTN3 Taylor and CTN2 Schroeder, were critical to the team's success. Their talent, time, and dedication are a testament to NCDOC's cyber force,” stated Meyers. “I am proud to have been the captain for Ctrl Alt Elite and represent both the command and my department. We look forward to competing again!”

According to Tanium’s Global Vice President of Technology and Federal Chief Technology Officer, Egon Rinderer, CTF competitions may also spark innovation.

“The Federal Capture the Flag event allows participants in charge of defending U.S. networks to harness the power of Tanium in a controlled environment where competition sparks innovation. While there’s only one winner, each team gains new knowledge and skills that can ultimately be applied to real-world cyber situations,” stated Rinderer.

NCDOC’s mission is to execute defensive cyberspace operations and enable global power projection through proactive network defense and reports operationally to U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet.

U. S. Fleet Cyber Command serves as the Navy component command to U. S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command, and the navy’s Service Cryptologic Component commander under the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. Fleet Cyber Command also reports directly to the Chief of Naval Operations as an Echelon II command.
 
 
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