West Point cadets train for cyber frontlines

Thursday - 3/17/2011, 2:54pm EDT

Steve Hawkins, vice president of Information Security Solutions, Raytheon

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By John Buckner
Federal News Radio

Cadets at West Point are teaming up with Raytheon to test software that enables them to identify insider security threats at home and abroad.

Steve Hawkins, Raytheon's vice president of information security solutions, told the DorobekINSIDER Thursday that West Point's electrical engineering and computer science departments are working with the company to determine how cadets will handle insider threats in a forward operating base.

"We created some software that we sell fairly widely across the government and Fortune 500 customers that work on the desktop to do auditing to make sure that individuals are adhering to organization's policies," Hawkins said. "It also examines different activities that could represent and insider threat, either unintentionally or maliciously, being able to detect them around a group of policies."

The study consists of red teams, which attack the network, and lets cadets react and assess situations for practical use on the front lines. "Not only are they seeing how they might set these policies as a result of this activity, but if you think about it, this also has the capability, as they do this in exercise, [to be] a training environment for what you might see and how people react given the stress of a command environment," Hawkins said.

Hawkins added the study is emulating as best as it can an environment similar to the front lines.

"When you get to a forward operating base and the cadence they have to operate under and the intensity of the very, very fast decisions to perform their mission, it creates a different dynamic," Hawkins said. "Insider threats can be an inadvertent activity that allows a threat into your system. An example would be accepting a socially engineered e-mail with an attachment that has mal-ware in it."

The software also includes a DVR-like feature which detects violations and tracks them. This lets cadets determine if the action was an accident or malicious in order to take the appropriate action.

The cadets are halfway through their training and are planning to be done in July.

John Buckner is an intern with Federal News Radio.

(Copyright 2011 by FederalNewsRadio.com. All Rights Reserved.)

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily Cybersecurity Update brought to you by Tripwire. For more cybersecurity news, click here.