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Marshall students participate in Locked Shields international cyber defense exercise

Marshall University students and faculty again had the opportunity to participate in the world’s largest international cyber defense exercise, run virtually by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia. The students traveled to Morgantown to partner with the U.S. Blue Team for the exercise, hosted at West Virginia University under the leadership of Joint Force Headquarters – Department of Defense Information Network, a component of United States Cyber Command.

This was the third year that Marshall participated, along with students from other institutions. They joined cyber experts and representatives from federal and state agencies simulating a national cyber rapid reaction team deployed to defend against a large-scale cyber attack. This year, 18 teams participated, representing 40 countries.

Locked Shields provides students with invaluable hands-on experience in practical  cyber defense skills in areas like incident reporting, strategic decision-making, forensics, legal issues and media relations. They can test classroom knowledge in a realistic simulated environment and collaborate with experienced professionals, fostering teamwork, communication and working under pressure.

“Locked Shields 2024 was an excellent opportunity for our students to interact with and learn from industry professionals in the realm of cyber forensics and security,” said John McFee, cyber forensics researcher and instructor at Marshall, and a Marshall alum. “This was my third year attending, and each year has given me new contacts and reinforced concepts that I learned in the classroom. I was honored this year to attend as the faculty member for our students and was very happy to see the interactions and help they were able to offer to the exercise. For students at Marshall interested in participating, I highly recommend taking the opportunity if it is offered. There is quite literally no bigger cyber exercise in the world.”

Students who participated include Abrianna Angus, Bella Thompson, Jacob Lauffer, Lakan Sheets and Alexander Lambert.

“Locked Shields was an amazing opportunity that I am honored to have participated in,” said Abrianna Angus, who just finished her sophomore year at Marshall and served as vice president of Marshall’s Women in Cyber program. “I learned so much while participating, and it was nice to put some of my classroom knowledge into real world scenarios. One of the highlights was sitting with our Norwegian partners and learning new skills and techniques from them. I had a great time, and I can’t wait for next year.”

For more information about Marshall’s Institute for Cyber Security, visit

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