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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?
[Lt. Greene] "I would encourage everybody to look into the field because cybersecurity isn't just about computers, it's also about cell phones and pretty much any mobile device you can think about. Cybersecurity is more about protecting yourself and from what I've learned at NSA I've completely changed the way I think about computing and mobile devices; I've locked down my Facebook, my cell phone and my computer. I put a lot more security on my stuff; not because I'm scared but because now I'm aware.
"The general public has no idea that they can post a picture on the Internet and anybody else, with even a basic python script, can pull the picture down and pull all the access data off it and find out where that person is literally standing at that moment! This isn't advanced cyber security, this is basic stuff. Everybody needs a little basic knowledge on protecting themselves."
What would you say to anyone in the public about the importance of training for cyber security?
[Lt. Greene] "Social engineering is an art. It has been around for a while and cyber capabilities - stalking online - isn't a very foreign idea anymore. You can pretty much find out where anybody is if they are not careful so everybody needs to have that good, basic knowledge. People like their privacy and they like having their money. Those are good reasons to have an understanding of cybersecurity; to protect themselves and their families."