AFIT tests Airmen’s cyberskills during ‘Hackfest’ competition

Some of the brightest Air Force and Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets from around the country wrapped up the monthlong Advanced Cyber Education program at the Air Force Institute of Technology on Aug. 6. During the last three days of their training, the cadets tested their knowledge in a competitive Hackfest.

“Hackfest is a test of all the things the students have learned during their four weeks here, said Dr. Timothy Lacey, one of the ACE program leaders. “Cadets think outside the box.” 

During the event, each team had to build its own enterprise network consisting of email, web, file transfer and file sharing servers — all of which are typical services.

Cadets also learn user names and crack passwords while exploiting vulnerabilities. Each team’s objective is to break into their opponent’s machines, find hidden flags and plant their flag and maintain functional control.

The Advanced Cyber Education program consists of an instructional component, cyber war exercises and cyber officer development that focuses on the study of cyber and its unique leadership challenges. Cadets learn offensive and defensive cyber techniques and best practices, computer forensics, how to exploit vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure such as the power grid, and software reverse engineering.

“It’s a culmination of everything we’ve learned within the past month testing against our peers, such as electronics, networking, and hacking,” said Cadet Nate Fuller. 

According to Lacey, after observing the talents and skills of these cadets, the next generation of cyberwarriors is off to a strong start.

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