Story by Maj. Mitchell Wander, National Capital Region Information Operations Center and Capt. Addie Randolph, 76th Operational Response Command
ADELPHI, Md. - Soldiers from the Army Reserve Information Operations Command earned first and third place amongst U.S. and International military teams in the 2013 Defense Cyber Crime Center Digital Forensic Challenge on Dec. 3, 2013.
The military category featured uniformed military and civil servants who work for Active Duty and Reserve Component military units.
The Army Reserve Information Operations Command based inside the Army Research Lab Adelphi, Md., entered two teams into the contest, the National Capital Region Information Operations Center, also based in Adelphi, and the Northeast Information Operations Center, based at Fort Devens, Mass.
"I am proud of what these teams accomplished. It is evidence of what great soldiers we have in the Army Reserve and of their exceptional technical capabilities in cyber defense," Col. Mark DiTrolio, ARIOC commander.
The NCRIOC submitted 34 digital forensics solutions during the 11-month competition and landed top honors out of 23 U.S. military teams. The NEIOC earned third place in the US military category.
The NCRIOC team "Carve This" also outscored all international military teams and placed 13th out of 317 worldwide teams among civilian, military, commercial, government, and academic categories. "The Victorizers" team representing NEIOC also scored ahead of all the international teams and placed 41st overall.
The DC3 Challenge provides digital artifacts comparable to what Soldiers might examine in a real-world cybersecurity situation. DC3 asked players to identify hidden files, perform analysis of suspicious network traffic, analyze registry entries and recover user passwords.
"I am proud of what these teams accomplished. It is evidence of what great soldiers we have in the Army Reserve and of their exceptional technical capabilities in cyber defense," said DiTrolio.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gary Cribbs led the team that included Sgt. 1st Class Al Williamson, Staff Sgt. Robin Brown and Maj. Mitch Wander, NCRIOC Forensics Mission Support Team leader.
Cribbs, an information services technician, provided leadership and guidance enabling the team to attempt solutions for all DC3 Challenge exercises from the basic to expert levels. DC3 identified the expert-level challenges as having "no known solution."
"As soldiers, we prepare to deal with unexpected situations," said Cribbs. "We train on a variety of digital media analysis tools and techniques in order to prepare for a broad range of mission requirements.
The DC3 Challenge exercised our capability to solve forensic problems all over the map."
The NCRIOC commander said he immediately saw the value of the challenge. "The Army expects our soldiers to be experts in cybersecurity, combining civilian-acquired skills with challenging, realistic training," said Lt. Col. Michael Smith, NCRIOC commander. "Participating in the DC3 Challenge leveraged the technical expertise and creative problem solving that our soldiers apply to stateside and deployed missions."
"The Victorizers" didn't exist more than a year ago, so they have achieved great success in the DC3 Challenge over a short amount of time. We are very proud of them at the NEIOC," said Lt Col. John McKee, NEIOC commander. "What's more important here is the exposure to other teams and methodologies, both military and civilian. In cyberspace it will be this type of cross-pollination of experience and partnerships with academia and industry that will cultivate the cyber security experts the Army needs."
Each Information Operations Center under the ARIOC is comprised of several teams with training in incident handling, computer network defense and other cybersecurity capabilities. The NCRIOC, NEIOC and three related units comprise the ARIOC. The ARIOC is part of the 76th Operational Response Command, based in Utah.
"I'm so proud of our "Carve This" and "The Victorizers" teams of Soldiers. Their devotion to their craft and willingness to work hard paid off in a spectacular showing," said Maj. Gen. Daniel L. York, commanding general of the 76th Operational Response Command.