Image courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy

Naval academy Midshipamn discovers threat in 3D printer during a cyber security challenge

News Release, US Naval Academy

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman 3rd Class (sophomore) Kade Heckel, 19, of Hughesville, Penn., discovered a new vulnerability in a 3D printer during a cybersecurity challenge held in Brooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 6-8.

The cyber challenge, HACKtheMACHINE, was held aboard New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It is a Navy-hosted event and encourages civilians and military from a variety of different backgrounds to come together to help solve current cyber and technological challenges.

Heckel’s discovery is expected to be used onboard ships and will have a real-world impact on the fleet. He is a computer science and computer engineering double major at the academy and attends to continue his work in the field upon graduation.

“I am currently pursuing a commission in the Navy as a cryptologic warfare officer where I will work to defend American interests in cyberspace,” said Heckel. “I hope to continue to research artificial intelligence and continue developing the technologies of tomorrow.”

HACKtheMACHINE aims to engage small businesses, startups, and individuals in the tech field to develop solutions to the challenges posed by different sponsors. The event focuses on three obstacles including maritime electronics capture the flag event, a data science challenge, and 3D printing.

 The objective is to engage non-traditional small businesses, start-ups, and individuals in tech hubs and to develop insights into the challenges posed by each track sponsor. Depending on the insights gained, they are turned into prototypes, developmental requirements/standards, or transition to a program office for incorporation into future development cycles. 

Founded in 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy today is a prestigious four-year service academy that prepares midshipmen morally, mentally and physically to be professional officers in the naval service. More than 4,400 men and women representing every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries make up the student body, known as the Brigade of Midshipmen. Midshipmen learn from military and civilian instructors and participate in intercollegiate varsity sports and extracurricular activities.

They also study subjects like small arms, drill, seamanship and navigation, tactics, naval engineering and weapons, leadership, ethics and military law. Upon graduation, midshipmen earn a tax-payer funded Bachelor of Science degree in a choice of 25 different subject majors and go on to serve at least five years of exciting and rewarding service as commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.

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