As the world faces increased cyber threats and attacks, more and more industries are strengthening their cyber defence systems to prevent data loss or hacks. They recruit and hire professionals who are experts in preventing data breaches or mitigating sophisticated attacks. But then, the experts also have to be trained continuously to manage new and upcoming consequences. The cyber range has emerged as an alternative solution to it which is used by government, military and organizations to practice and learn how to respond promptly. This article will throw light upon how cyber ranges work and why we need them now.
What is a cyber range?
The cyber range is a combination of hardware and software systems that may be used virtually or in real. It is a communicative model designed to facilitate system tools, local networks and other software components in a security system that is connected to the internet. As a result, the cyber range ensures a secure and authentic environment comprising cyber security experts for product development or performing other confidential work. The cyber range can also be operated combinedly with other cyber range facilities. The internet security range includes not just stimulated traffic but also network services like emails, browsers or webpages accessed by customers.
Why do we need a cyber range now?
Cyber range creation is very necessary, particularly in an era where we face cyber threats more than ever before. An organization or a particular system can’t develop and update its cyber defence constantly. Cyber experts need practical skill development or else, new threats may hamper the entire cyber system. Hence, the cyber range is the key to solving all the existing issues and making our cyber systems secure. Some of the reasons why we need cyber range in multiple areas include the following.
Continuous training of cybersecurity professionals
One of the primary reasons behind the emergence of the cyber range is training security personnel about new and sophisticated cyber threats that arise each day. Many existing employees, in fact, believe that the talent gap can result in mishandling or unmeasurable damage to organizations. Others believe that practising in a real-world environment and with practical explanations is essential to face real-time threats. Hence, the cyber range is the only solution for training personnel practically and engagingly.
Highly advanced attack centres
Due to the existing talent gap seen amongst security personnel in different fields, the internet environment has become more serious. A dramatic rise has been recorded recently concerning data breaches and attacks that have resulted in millions of dollars worth of losses. Corporates, government offices, public sector companies and blockchain firms have all faced severe attacks from sophisticated cyber attack systems which could have otherwise prevented by applying appropriate cyber range solutions.
To be prepared
As an organization’s digital infrastructure evolves, cybersecurity experts require to maintain their skills that match current infrastructural changes. Since cyber ranges provide them with new platforms and technologies, they can improve their expertise in cloud computing, and the Internet of Things. While experienced professionals can adapt and learn new environments where they are working, new ones can get curriculums to specialize in the cybersecurity field.
Places where cyber ranges are used today
Defence and crime branch
Military operations always have training sessions to strengthen their military force alongside aviation, weapons and so on. Because of the new trend seen in a digitized world where infrastructure and the internet have become an inevitable part of wars, military and defence systems are considering cyber ranges to train their cyber soldiers. The advancement in cyber security further prevents data breaches or helps officials in locating criminals by learning new cyber security ranges.
Education and R&D
Many Universities have already employed cyber ranges to conduct research in technology, security and human-robot interaction. They use the system in creating a real-time training environment for their students and staff.
Commercial or industrial set-ups
Cyber threats prevention is the main intention behind applying cyber ranges in industries but few of them use cyber ranges to test commercial products and services as well. This is done to safeguard their internet from malicious actors or fake companies. The stimulator enables testers which oversee how systems will deal with malware attacks if any.
Internet of Things
IoT is expanding quickly, adding a new threat surface. It’s crucial to have skilled security operators working in their defence because many IoT devices lack intrinsic security measures. The decentralized, no-perimeter settings in which IoT devices are installed, as well as their huge number, must be simulated by the cyber range.
Common cyber range components
Learning management system or LMS
The learning management system of LMS in the cyber range allows range administrators to stimulate the training process and monitor core learning objectives. The LMS ensures that the set-up and control exercises are properly managed and team building is endured besides reporting training progress. Many cyber range solutions though, differentiate LMS into professional cyber range and cyber lab.
The curriculum for trainees at cyber ranges is usually customizable or predetermined. A predetermined curriculum may include predetermined tasks or tests that professionals must know. Many cyber range solution providers employ work role mapping along with training exercises by using sophisticated frameworks. Customizable curricula, on the other side, differ from one client to the other and trains personnel according to specific organizational needs. This allows organizations to train employees and focus on particular areas or tactics which pose the utmost threat to the organization.
The real-time training environment
One of the best parts of cyber ranges is aiming at a realistic training environment. The range offers various stimulation programs for enterprise networks including stimulated network configuration, routing information and network traffic monitoring. The training process may include software and hardware infrastructure dedicated to cyber range practices. The cyber ranges can be carried on the cloud-based platform or on-premises which can include client-based software for targeting a specific issue. Highly sophisticated ranges may also contain a blended environment comprising physical and virtual setups for proper explanations.
Many cyber range solution providers are utilising innovative and engaging ways to include gamification in training. The approach utilises trainee engagement besides improving retention and knowledge absorption skills. When the gamified environment is encouraged, the entire training becomes more interactive rather than problem centred approach. Immediate feedback and opinions are received by trainees at once while administrators receive immediate results.
Cyber ranges play a very important role in securing your cyber network readiness and ensuring your organization’s readiness. While an organization can promote its own cyber range, and manage hardware and infrastructure or network components, it can prove a difficult and time-consuming process. The self-made infrastructure may further cause issues while relocating forensics, incident response, mobile device hacking or threat-hunting events. This is why many companies and governments are taking assistance from cyber range providers to supplement their formal training mechanisms.