Cybersecurity may be one of the highest priorities for a wide range of businesses today. One look at the business news, and it’s easy to see why. Cybercrime is on the rise, with bad agents becoming more and more sophisticated in how they threaten networks and businesses.
It’s no wonder that the number of cybersecurity training programs are on the rise as well, scrambling to provide enough trained talent to combat this growing problem. Colleges, universities, trade schools, stand-alone education centers, and internal training departments of major corporations have developed courses, materials, and simulated lab environments to help students learn to prevent, identify, and mitigate cyber threats.
A cyber range is a high-fidelity clone of a real-life network system under a simulated cyber attack. By replicating things like servers, applications, networking, open-source tools, and security stack tools, a cyber range is designed to help professionals learn and practice these critical skills.
What’s the difference between a cyber lab and a cyber range?
The idea of a “cybersecurity lab” may be more common, and many people may use the term “cyber range” synonymously. However, there are important differences between the two.
Virtual cybersecurity labs are typically used early in the education and training process and are designed to teach very specific skills in a controlled environment. For example, a student might learn a particular component of cybersecurity in theory, and then practice by executing recently taught actions in a controlled cyber lab. The simulated situation guides the students down a scripted path to reach a predetermined “correct” result.
Virtual cybersecurity lab training is excellent at teaching standalone subject areas as well as training students on the basics of keeping a network safe at a preventive level. These tools can be updated to reflect current subject areas and encourage a great deal of repetition to perfect basic skills.
A cyber range, on the other hand, is more frequently found as part of IT training in a particular company. It works in the actual environment, complete with real cyber threats, and allows IT professionals to practice at a more holistic level. Virtual machines can be set up with software-defined networks and realistic network routing. Cyber ranges are created with several repeatable tasks so that the system can be reset for additional practice in the same environment.
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What does a cyber range teach?
Besides providing a real-life environment, a cyber range is designed to instill a wide range of necessary skills in this ever-evolving industry:
- Greater Understanding. Cybersecurity professionals must not only know what actions should be taken in specific situations but also the reasoning behind those actions. By using a cyber range, professionals learn to understand which threats exist, their attack vectors, and how to stop the threat from spreading through a specific system.
- Working in an Imperfect Environment. The vast majority of IT systems in any industry will have multiple patches and updates to operating systems, software, applications, and integrations. Cyber ranges allow students to practice identifying, testing, and mitigating threats in these not-so-perfect environments.
- Updated Networks. Since cyber ranges are typically cloud-based, they can be automatically updated with any real-life patches and improvements in real-time.
- Scalability. Depending on training needs, a cyber range can be easily scaled to provide a custom practice environment. Once one level of competence has been achieved, the cyber threat landscape can be expanded to introduce more complex scenarios.
Cyber ranges can be used to test security stacks and system configurations as well as provide actual attack situations to educate and evaluate specific employees or teams. They can help check whether a company’s security policies are being utilized and enforced and also prove compliance with government or industry regulations. By synchronizing the response by people, processes, and technology, cyber ranges can help optimize how a cyber threat is handled and ensure prompt action in the case of a live event. In some areas, cyber ranges can help companies developing new security products test and mature their offerings.
What are the benefits of cyber ranges?
Cyber ranges are excellent tools for today’s business in just about any industry with an online presence. They offer a wide range of benefits including:
- Cyber Readiness. In today’s world, it’s no longer a question of “if” but “when” a cyber attack will occur. Cyber ranges help improve an organization’s readiness for when that day arrives.
- Prove Compliance. Evolving along with cybercrime is the ever-increasing level of regulations both at the government and industry level. A cyber range helps companies provide evidence of ongoing compliance.
- Testing Security Stack. It’s likely that a wide range of security protocols and tools already exist within a modern business. Cyber ranges help professionals stress and test those tools and processes to ensure they are working as expected.
- Practice Attack Response. By simulating an actual attack, organizations can see how every level of the company responds in a cyber range environment. This provides a basis for improvement and process changes before a real attack happens.
- Screen Potential Employees. A cyber range can be used as a testing ground as a part of the interview process for hiring IT professionals. Evaluate a potential employee’s ability to respond to a simulated attack on a clone of your company’s actual system.
- Refine Training Program. Along the same lines as evaluating new hires, a cyber range can help a company identify both strengths and weaknesses of an internal team. This information can then be used to develop future training programs to shore up weaker areas.
A trusted partner for higher education institutions and enterprises since 2014, Apporto works with customers to understand their unique needs in order to reduce demands on IT departments, maximize productivity, and boost security architectures. Contact us today to learn how our turnkey DaaS solutions empower educators and inspire student learning.