Department of Energy’s Annual Cyber Defense Competition


The ever-increasing amount of Internet technology in the modern day makes security a high priority and causes a high demand for cybersecurity professionals in the United States.  In fact, ISACA predicts a global shortage of two million cyber professionals by 2019.[1]  Unfilled cybersecurity careers will reach over 1.5 million by 2019. With the ever-increasing amount of technology placed on the internet, security becomes a high priority. The Department of Energy (DOE), capitalizing on the expertise of current national laboratory staff that previously hosted two successful cyber defense competitions to exercise interactive, scenario-based events, where teams engage in cybersecurity activities includes methods, practices, strategy, policy, and ethics. Through the cyber defense competitions, DOE has worked to increase 1) hands-on cyber education to college students and professionals, 2) awareness into the critical infrastructure and cyber security nexus,  and  3)  basic  understanding  of  cyber  security  within  a  real  world scenario.

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Meltdown, Spectre, and Speculative Execution, Oh My!

Official Site for Spectre and Meltdown

meltdown logospectre logo

Modern processors are very complex and, as such, contain some features that make use of advanced techniques to provide users with faster execution times. One of these features utilizes speculative execution, a technique that utilizes additional memory in order to save time in the long run. Since this may not be a well-known concept outside of lower-level programming, here is a small example to provide context. Read more

New Year, New (Cyber) Me

People typically use the dawn of the new year to shed the old habits that have crept up through the year and spawn new, better, and hopefully healthier habits. Do not limit yourself to just physical goals! The new year poses an excellent chance to take a good look at your cyber hygiene and pick one or two things that might give you some additional protection. Here are some tips that might get you started

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GSS’s 2017 Cyber Defense Competition

Cyber Defense Competition 2017 Indiana Tech

GSS’s Cyber Operations, Analysis and Research (COAR) team partnered with Education to host their Second Annual Cyber Defense Competition (CDC) on Saturday, April 1, 2017. Students from varying levels of higher education and regions within the United States competed to defend a real-world simulation of an energy and water distribution system.

To find out how the day went, we asked COAR’s Amanda Joyce. Read more

COAR and GSS Featured in Chicago Magazine

On Monday, February 27, 2017, Chicago Magazine published an article by Bryan Smith, entitled The Doomsday Squad and featuring three members of Argonne’s Global Security Sciences (GSS) division.  The article highlights the efforts of Charles Macal of the Systems Science Center (SSC), Megan Clifford of the Risk and Infrastructure Science Center (RISC), Nate Evans of RISC’s Cyber Analysis, Operations, and Research (COAR) group, and the teams that each of them leads.

Smith describes the work of these groups as a bold and brave plunge into the realm of potential disaster for the purpose of optimizing the integrity of Chicago’s critical infrastructure: transportation, power, cyber-infrastructure, etc.  Smith writes, “Harnessing Argonne’s massive computing power, they think about precisely what most of us would prefer not to… they imagine the disastrous, envision the catastrophic, and intricately model the apocalypse in its various and horrific guises… building minutely detailed predictive models that show how a given disaster might unfold and, not for nothing, how we might alter the story before the plot turns ugly.” Read more

Cyber-Tabletop Exercises for Sports-Entertainment Venues

Many sports teams of both the professional and collegiate levels perform tabletop exercises to prepare for various, potential emergencies, ranging from severe weather to terrorist attacks.  While such organizations tend to place a heavy emphasis on physical preparedness, there lies an often-underestimated potential for a cyberattack that can detrimentally affect sporting events as well.

Though many sports teams increasingly account for cyber threats, the acknowledgment seems to stop at basic information technology (IT) or information-related hacks.  Sports organizations must begin to realize that cyberattacks can be much more sophisticated once believed, with hackers potentially gaining access to restricted areas, tampering with emergency systems, or even compromising a venue’s visual infrastructure.  Incorporating cyber preparedness into sports organizations’ tabletop exercises is an excellent first step toward increasing cyber resilience in sports entertainment. Read more

Women in Cybersecurity

The Current Trend

Despite intense growth in the field of cybersecurity, women continue to form merely a small minority of the cybersecurity workforce.  The industry currently boasts approximately one million available jobs, and the number is expected to increase to 1.5 million available jobs by 2019.  However, women only hold about one in every 10 positions[1] in the cybersecurity industry, constituting a meager 8-13 percent[2] of cybersecurity professionals overall.  Figure 1 below illustrates a comparison of the amount of women in computer science-related studies versus alternative fields:


A number of possible reasons have been suggested for the lack of women in the cybersecurity workforce.  For example, the information-security organization CREST discusses a deficiency in computer-science courses among secondary schools.[3]  Without proper exposure to the field, many women remain unaware of their opportunities.  Similarly, the workforce itself has witnessed a lack of mentorship that encourages women to pursue advancement in cybersecurity.[4]  Instead of encouragement, the National Cybersecurity Institute (NCI) argues that the marketing industry tends to use aggressive, more masculine terminology in relation to cybersecurity, selecting phrases such as “combat cyberthreats” or “fortify digital defenses”.[5]  The entertainment industry also tends to portray men more often than women in mathematical, scientific, or technical television and film roles.3  As a result, women may pursue fields that offer a more welcoming environment. Read more

COAR members attend Grace Hopper

The COAR team’s Jennifer Fowler and Amanda Joyce will be presenting on their poster at Grace Hopper on October 4, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. It is produced by the Anita Borg Institute and presented in partnership with ACM.[1]

The poster entitled, “Argonne National Laboratory’s Cyber Defense Competition – Defending Tomorrow’s Infrastructure Today” looks to highlight the gender gap in cyber security and computer science and how Argonne’s Cyber Defense Competition is hoping to help females become more aware of the many different paths of cyber security through a hands-on defense approach. Read more

MORE MTD Named 2017 R&D 100 Finalist

In an R&D Magazine press release on August 9th, the R&D 100 Awards Committee announced its 2017 finalists, with COAR’s patented technology, Multiple OS Rotational Environment Moving Target Defense (MORE MTD), among them.

2017 R&D 100 is the 55th annual awards program that recognizes prestigious innovations of science or technology.  It awards 100 ideas, each of which falls into one of five categories: Analytical/Test; IT/Electrical; Mechanical Devices/Materials; Process/Prototyping; and Software/Services, and provides four Special Recognition Awards as well: Market Disruptor Services; Market Disruptor Products; Corporate Social Responsibility; and Green Tech. Read more