[Lt. Greene] "West Point allows you to do internships, not just at NSA but at any government organization as well as at Google, Cisco and universities like USC and Penn State, to name a few. I had done one with the U.S. European Command, Information Assurance Directorate, where they had just finished up their yearly cybersecurity exercise and were doing analysis. The NSA guys over there were very active helping them with the analysis and patching holes in their systems. They [NSA] pulled us into the office and said, 'We'd like you to work on this project'. They weren't very specific, they just said 'It's in the field right now; it's a live system; and it's going to save soldiers' lives.' "
Before your first time here, what did you think it would be like inside the NSA?
[Lt. Love] "The total stereotype. We imagined sterilized hallways and spooky people walking around. It wasn't exactly like that. There are normal people here too."
How has your perspective of the NSA changed after your internship here?
[Lt. Love] "The importance of the mission you take on here affected me. It's not just spooky stuff that - in your wildest imagination - they do. They have a lot of outreach towards education and research with both military and civilian people involved."
What is CDX?
[Lt. Love] "The Cyber Defense Exercise is an annual event put on by the NSA and the service academies. We set up a network and the NSA tries to get in. It's a competition, complete with a scoring system, and all five service academies compete against each other."
In the 12-year history of CDX, the USMA has been the undergraduate school winner of the intense cyber battle six times.
If you were talking with students at other schools (such as non-military institutions) studying computer science/engineering, would you encourage them to enter the field of cyber security?
[Lt. Greene] "I would. Just because, looking at it from the military's perspective, sometimes you get tunnel-vision how we enforce policy and then how the Department of Defense manages its networks. Bringing in civilians with an outside perspective brings in a diverse set of knowledge; it helps us create a more secure network for us and better protection of our national security."
[Lt. Love] "Absolutely. The cybersecurity field is not just limited to guys who hit keyboards all day, it takes a whole new perspective and set of disciplines coming into it and it's such a rapidly evolving field night now. There are opportunities for everyone and it needs help from a lot of different kinds of people."
If they were studying other fields, would you encourage them too?