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Cyber Security Science

Tracer: Building the Skilled Cyber Defense Community

The Tracer FIRE and Tracer INFERNO events provide hands-on computer security workshops to strengthen the community of cyber defenders in DOE, other government agencies, and critical infrastructure. These workshops build a distributed team of cyber defenders with the latest skills necessary to respond to cyber intrusions.

Tracer FIRE (Forensic Incident Response Exercise) is a four-day even that aims to empower cyber security responders with skills and techniques to recognize and dissect nefarious network activity and malicious software. Over 600 attendees have participated since the first event in 2010. Annual FIRE events are held in February of each year. These events include parallel lab-oriented training tracks followed by a capture-the-flag contest to test newly acquired skills and knowledge in a challenging and motivating environment:

Mini FIRE events are smaller, shorter events held at DOE's Network Security Monitoring Group meetings, the DOE Computer Security Conference, and other occasions.

Tracer INFErno (Intensive Forensics Exercise) brings advanced analysts from multiple sites together to work on data from real incidents. By placing responders in the same physical location and giving them a week away from their desk, we provide analysts an opportunity to stay current with the threat landscape, while at the same time creating and strengthening social contacts that have shown to be so critical during an actual high-pressure cyber incident.


Participants in 2012 reported an average of 4.2 new contacts in their peer community. The quality of the training tracks and contest were each rated at greater than 4 out of 5.

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