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    Cyber Shield 2024 Newbie to Game-Maker

    Cyber Shield 2024 Newbie to Game-Maker

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Hannah Tarkelly | Virginia National Guardsman Lt. Col. Chris Elgee with the 123rd Cyber Protection...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Hannah Tarkelly 

    382nd Public Affairs Detachment

    Virginia National Guard’s State Military Reservation, Va. Beach. - Among the sea of cyber experts here at Cyber Shield, one particular individual stood out as one of this year’s game-making masterminds. Virginia National Guardsman Lt. Col. Chris Elgee with the 123rd Cyber Protection Battalion, 91st Cyber Brigade is one figure behind the screens who is pulling all of this year’s strings.

    Elgee is a highly skilled cyber penetration tester and hacking professional who helped develop the annual netwar games specifically designed for Virginia’s four Cyber Battalions during their annual certification exercises.

    The netwar games and exercises are divided into opposing red and blue teams. The red teams attempt to infiltrate the blue team's systems and in response, blue teams must catch and resolve it before the whole system crumbles. Elgee helped develop these intricate simulated systems and infiltration techniques that the red teams would utilize this year to attack.

    How does one design such an intricate game that involves hacking a highly secured simulated system? Well, for Elgee his expertise had been over 10 years in the making and he started as a newbie in these very games.

    A decade ago, Elgee attended Cyber Shield 2014 with only an undergrad computer science degree in his cyber portfolio. With no prior exposure or real-world cyber security experience, Elgee took a virtual leap and followed fellow Soldiers to Arkansas for his first-ever Cyber Shield event. There, Elgee was placed on the red team, and by the end of the rigorous training and competitions, a nearby Soldier approached Elgee to give him kudos on a job well done. From that point on, a flip had switched and Elgee had a newfound calling in the cyber world.

    Each new year, he continued to attend Cyber Shield competitions until his fourth competition rolled around and Elgee was denied the opportunity to attend. Cyber security didn’t fall under the realm of his current military occupation so it was time to make a serious transition to cyber.

    The National Guard supported and sponsored his interest in developing within the cyber world. Through the Guard, Elgee began to collect training certificates much like a Major League Baseball enthusiast collecting baseball cards.

    Finally, he was able to leave the Active Guard Reserve program and follow his passions through the SANS Institute’s VetSuccess Academy. In this academy, he attended three cyber-professional classes at no cost. The academy assisted with interview preparation, resume building, and finally a job placement in his dream career field.

    Today, Elgee is a traditional Guardsman with the Virginia National Guard with a full-time civilian occupation in penetration testing and counter-hacking. Elgee is a mentor at the SANS Institute’s VetSuccess Academy and travels the world to teach penetration testing as a contractor for SANS Institute.

    Throughout the years, Elgee has traveled to oil rigs, oil fields, high-value individual homes, and a science vessel in Europe to assess vulnerabilities in their cybersecurity networks. On these missions, Elgee is tasked with testing their systems through counter-hacking and giving consultation advice after the attempted breaching.

    “At the end of the day, the job is all about trying to make the defenders better and trying to find the holes in their security to give recommendations on how to get better,” Elgee said.

    As a cybersecurity expert in both civilian and military professions, Elgee remains one of the nation's defense tools to help keep cyber networks secure. His curated experience has enabled him to infiltrate a vast variety of systems by finding even the smallest cracks in their designs. Due to this ability, Elgee can determine where to patch up the wall and create a more secure barrier for the real enemy.

    “Knowing what the bad guys are capable of enabled us as a team to look at it from the intel perspective and see that these are no kidding what your threats are,” Elgee said.

    Elgee’s skill set also includes building hacker games such as the “Holiday Hack Challenge” and “NetWars.” These are congruent to the NetWars games the Cyber Shield participants will face in the upcoming week. His decade's worth of knowledge and expertise made him this year’s perfect game-making mastermind to create a memorable event for those attending this year’s cyber training.

    “Train as you fight,” Elgee said. “We wanted to make it as realistic as possible as to what they're going to encounter when on a mission.”

    The game-makers have worked diligently to ensure participants will experience exercises and games that mirror real-world scenarios.

    Elgee describes cyber security professionals as problem-solving fanatics no matter what side of the keyboard they are playing on. As a defender, one must figure out what is happening and as an attacker, one must figure out how to get past that firewall.

    “It’s all about puzzles,” Elgee said. “We’re all curious folks and that drives us to solve all these little puzzles”

    This year’s game-making mastermind left one last decoded message for readers: “For anyone trying to get into this field, there is something in this field for everybody, and it comes down to just playing with it,” Elgee said. “So, play the games, try the lock picks, and check out the threat intel.”


    Date Taken: 06.10.2024
    Date Posted: 06.12.2024 13:52
    Story ID: 473482

    Web Views: 437
    Downloads: 1