Norwich University’s Cyber Gaming Software Utilized in Quantum Dawn 3 Cybersecurity Exercise

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Norwich University Office of Communications

September 17, 2015

Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI) tested its cyber gaming software yesterday with over 500 participants from over 80 financial institutions and government organizations in one of the largest financial sector cybersecurity exercises, called Quantum Dawn 3. Quantum Dawn 3 was organized by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). [See SIFMA’s statement here.] SIFMA engaged NUARI to provide a real-world simulation of a large-scale cyber-attack.

Yesterday’s exercise allowed some of the country’s largest financial institutions and some of its smallest to test their ability to maintain operations while managing a coordinated cyber-attack designed to interrupt the U.S. financial system.

NUARI built the tool, called Distributed Environment for Decision-Making Exercises – Financial Sector (DECIDE – FS®), under a $9.9 million contract awarded in August 2013 by the Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a member of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee and of its Defense Subcommittee, sponsored legislation that chartered NUARI in 2002 and announced the DECIDE – FS® contract at Norwich’s Northfield campus in 2013.

“Cyber-attacks on our personal and financial and security systems are increasingly pervasive and damaging. Norwich University has done important and outstanding work in training future leaders and in helping to defend our nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks,” said Leahy. “I am proud that this respected Vermont institution contributes to our readiness to deal with this pressing national security challenge.”

The only tool of its kind, DECIDE – FS® was initially designed to test U.S. financial sector cybersecurity and can be adapted for use in other critical infrastructure arenas, such as utilities and communications.

“Experience is the best teacher. These Quantum Dawn exercises provide realistic training with measurable results and encourage information sharing, cooperation and coordination to work through the disruption. Operational incidents, caused by cyber-attacks should be planned for and building resiliency within critical infrastructures is paramount, not optional,” said NUARI President Phil Susmann.

DECIDE-FS® replaces simple tabletop exercises with a business simulation customized to individual business models, information technology topology, and organizational dependencies. Built on top of a financial markets simulation, business leaders are stressed with cyber threats that affect the markets – price, volume, latency, and utilities as well as how each organization is structured in terms of business model, value chains, and dependencies.

The daylong exercise on Sept. 16 followed two prior successful cybersecurity exercises in 2013 and 2011. All three Quantum Dawn exercises were facilitated by NUARI. While the prior two exercises pushed participants and the markets to extremes to determine when markets would close, the focus of Quantum Dawn 3 was to maintain operations in the face of a significant data integrity failure within post-trade operations.

Through the simulation, individuals and organizations learn to operate under conditions that simulate reality—similar to how simulators are employed to assist in the training of pilots and mariners to be prepared for and handle emergencies.

NUARI has collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security for nearly a decade, preparing individuals and institutions to respond to catastrophic network failures, natural disasters, distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks and other events that can impact market activity, communications, and essential services affecting critical infrastructures. DECIDE-FS® created at NUARI, is a massive, multi-participant simulation that effectively immerses industry decision makers, securities traders, IT and business continuity managers and others into complex, simulated scenarios focused on the effects of cyber incidents as well as other hazards.

For business inquiries, please contact NUARI at (802) 485-2213.


Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI) was federally chartered under legislation sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy in 2002 and is funded in part through the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. NUARI has a national center to address cyber incident management challenges through research, training programs and technology development and has been a global leader for more than a decade in developing cyber war gaming, distributed learning technology, distributed simulation technology, critical infrastructure exercises, and cyber security curriculum.

DECIDE-FS® exercises serve to strengthen the resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructures in the face of cyber-attacks from nation-states and trans-national actors.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Transformation” here:

Media Contact:

Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
(802) 485-2886; (m) 595-3613
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