Cyber war game tests future troops

Thursday, 24 April 2003, 12:45 AM EST

In a basement lab littered with computers, monitors and chalkboard diagrams, 14 Naval Academy midshipmen are buzzing about the latest hacker assault on the computer network they created.

Hackers have penetrated their network and erased a database. But lead technician James Shey, stifling a yawn, says this attack is no big deal -- his team saved a backup copy.

Shey has slept a total of five hours out of the last 36. He and the other future Navy officers have been standing cybersecurity watch as part of the third annual Cyber Defense Exercise. The midshipmen, along with teams from the nation's four other service academies, are defending home-grown computer networks from attack by specialists from the National Security Agency, the United States's ultra-secretive surveillance and spy agency.

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