An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : Saved News Module
NEWS | Sept. 17, 2019

Warfare Center participants gain wins at 2019 Hack the Machine contest

By J.W. Marcum NSWC PHD

More than 600 participants from across the NAVSEA enterprise, government, industry and academia partnered together to help solve complex cybersecurity problems for the Navy at the 2019 Hack the Machine contest held in the New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Sept. 6-8.

This was the fifth Hack the Machine event the Navy has hosted, which occurs semiannually. The events address real-life scenarios in maritime cyber test beds. Hack the Machine 2019 was organized and sponsored through the collaborative efforts of NAVSEA, Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, and the Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group.

Approximately 15 people from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) participated in the event, several on winning teams.

“It was great to engage in a hands-on experience of hacking a real simulation set-up of a ship,” said NSWC PHD Hardware Engineer, Chris Draper. “The event provided a system of multiple computers and networks and different pieces of software and hardware to tap into.”

Draper and his team, “Ahh Ship!” consisted of eight participants from Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport, NSWC Panama City Division, NAVAIR and NSWC PHD. The team pursued the educational route on the first of three “tracks,” titled “Hack the Ship,” and won first place.

Other tracks included “Data Science: Cleared for Takeoff,” track two, and “Digital Manufacturing: Rendering Aid,” track three. Apart from the educational route, teams could participate in an advanced portion, which offered cash rewards. A “Capture-the-Flag” option garnered the top prize at the event. Each track received a specific set of challenges to complete.  

NSWC PHD also had employees on the second-place team, the “Mad Adders,” for track three, along with a teammate from NSWC Crane.

The teams hacked away for 13 hours straight on Saturday at the New Lab. A meet-and-greet mixer was held at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, the night prior. On Sunday, finalizations were completed and ceremonies held for the winners.

“It’s very unique to be able to attack a live maritime system,” said NSWC PHD Information Systems Security Engineer, Eric Monet, who was also on the “Ahh Ship!” team. “We could actually walk up to the system and see, plus we could utilize some software we hadn’t tried before. Understanding how a system works and how that system can be breached, disrupted or destroyed is good knowledge to have when you’re trying to mitigate risk.”

“This was a good experience for me because of the tools that I use deal directly with penetration testing and finding vulnerabilities,” said “Ahh Ship!” teammate and NSWC PHD security researcher, Ian Wilson. “Armed with the knowledge that we gained from this experience, next year we plan on joining the advanced track.”