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Defense Acquisition University
DAU Hosts Successful Capture the Flag Cyber Challenges
Written by: Roy Wilson, DAU Professor of Cybersecurity
May 23, 2019
DAU teammates Roy Wilson and Vinny Lamolinara hosted a cybersecurity Capture the Flag (CTF) event at St. Mary’s College in southern Maryland May 15, 2019. The CTF was conducted as part of the larger DAU Mission Based Cyber Focus event held from May 14-16 at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.
DAU contracted with Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) to run a CTF competition, which BAH proposed their “Kaizen” product as a solution to the DAU requirement. Kaizen comes from the Japanese word or philosophy for continuous learning and improvement of skills and self; which aligns perfectly with the mission of DAU.
Roy Wilson (DAU) and Tim Nary (BAH) Provide Opening Comments
Fifty-one participants from the DoD acquisition workforce representing both government and industry participated in the CTF. Government participants included Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) active duty military and civilian personnel. Industry participants represented a cross section of contractor companies supporting government acquisition program offices and included BAH, Boeing, MilCorp, Smartronix, and Tekla Research.
The Kaizen challenge offered participants the opportunity to act in an offensive or defensive role. The offensive actors interacted with a virtualized, vulnerable computer network infrastructure and employed various hacking techniques to exploit their way through the competition networks. The defensive actors had to hunt for adversaries in the same network. The challenge scenario was built around the ambitions of the fictitious Democratic People’s Republic of Kiringul (DPRK). The glorious leader of the DPRK was preparing for a nuclear missile launch test. The offensive CTF teams had to infiltrate the network, gather intelligence about their capabilities and destroy their launch facilities. The objective for the defenders was to detect the adversaries and disrupt their attempted nefarious activities.
CTF participants work through challenges
The knowledge gained from playing out the offensive and defensive actor roles in the Kaizen scenario will enable our DoD acquisition workforce and partner contractors to improve DoD systems cybersecurity through better system security requirements development, system security design solutions, and system security testing.
Roy Wilson is a DAU professor of cybersecurity. He can be reached at