NDU cyber threat workshop receives top honors from DOD

A team of faculty from National Defense University’s iCollege has received recognition for exceptional achievement for helping conduct a virtualized cyber defense workshop that yielded global collaboration on critical cyber defense issues.

Receiving honors from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Network and Information Integration)/ DOD CIO was a team that included Professor Gilliam Duvall, chair of the Cyber Integration and Information Operations Department; John Saunders, Cyber Integration and Information Operations Department; and John Hurley, Information Strategic Department at the NDU iCollege.

The U.S. DOD International Cyber Workshop, conducted Nov. 6-11, brought together more than 200 people representing DOD, international defense organizations, private industry and academia. According to a release from NDU iCollege, the ICDW broke an attendance record with 226 individuals registered.

The workshop itself centered on realistic examples of cyber threats and focused on not just identifying the threats but ways to deal with them. Critical infrastructure was of particular emphasis.

“The power grid, transportation system, water supply – these systems are widespread, and we spoke about their vulnerability, how they’re broken into and how they can be defended and made more resistant to someone trying to get into them,” Duvall said.

Using Defense Connect Online, video teleconferencing and multimedia, the workshop was able to create a virtual lab.

“We used some lab demonstrations – for example, a pumping station, a bridge transportation system, an electrical grid, an oil pipeline – we showed the techniques used to break into begin with, and what happens to these systems when they’re broken into. Once [participants] understood how they’re broken into, we demonstrated some techniques to mitigate that risk,” Duvall said.

The interactive element was essential to the workshop’s impact, he added.

“It was key to have a visual element because hearing someone talk about these kinds of things is not nearly as good as seeing a demonstration. We concentrated very heavily on the demonstration piece,” Duvall said. “The visual was very important; for example, we used some short video vignettes that were posted to YouTube. More so than taking a course online, this actually had a very high visual component that went along with it.”

This iteration of the workshop was the best-attended so far, and Duvall believes participants finished with some important lessons as well as a stronger sense of cooperation.

“One of the big takeaways is that we all face similar risks…we demonstrate issues that are present globally. It’s not just a U.S. problem; it’s not just a one-nation problem. These are problems that everyone is dealing with, systems that everyone has in their country,” Duvall said. “There is commonality in that we all face the same risks. This creates an air of collaboration and an air of communication that builds up trust across nations.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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