19.05.2021 Cyber range training: Courses, scenarios, and more

by Noel Murphy

Many chief information security officers (CISOs) know that theory-based learning just doesn’t cut it. A slideshow doesn’t provide hands-on experience to defend against threats, but cyber range training courses do.  

There’s no denying it, your time is valuable — you need effective cyber security training that offers results. By reinforcing and testing skills individually and rehearsing attack scenarios collectively, your team can truly master their roles before a security incident happens. This is where a cyber range excels. 

Benefits of cyber range training 

Cyber ranges offer a safe environment to deliver realistic security training and assessments in an easy-to-deploy package — a major advantage for busy CISOs. Experiential learning that emphasizes real-world application, practice, and repetition prepares teams better than traditional “classroom” learning 

Cyber ranges are often used to: 

  • Practice and perfect incident response 
  • Strengthen skills gaps before they become a liability 
  • Upskill in a secure space 
  • Refresh and reinforce existing skill sets 
  • Evaluate job candidates with hands-on tests 

It’s important to keep in mind that effective cyber training rarely takes a one-size-fits-all approach — every security and IT function is unique. And yet, recent research from the UK has found that few businesses know their security training needs very well. 

It’s critical to take time to understand your team’s learning needs and then choose training content with that in mind. Are there certain skills lacking in your department? Any competency or knowledge gaps? Cyber range training will be even more effective if the content matches the learning goals. 

Types of cyber range training courses 

Cyber range content is often role-based. This means that courses and scenarios focus on the concepts and skills relevant to a specific cyber security position. 

Industry guidelines from organizations such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) help identify skills needed for certain roles. The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework by NIST outlines positions common in cyber security teams — such as cyber defence analysts — and lists the competencies needed to succeed at a junior, intermediate, and senior level. 

For example, the NICE framework states that vulnerability analysts assess company systems and networks to identify security gaps. A person in this role could benefit from a role-based training course about misconfiguration exploitation to learn more about common system configurations or coding practices that lead to security gaps. 

Look for a content library that allows teams to take smaller skill-based courses as part of regular training, or a fully defined curriculum to learn a new position. Cyber range training courses can vary in complexity — from introductory classes to complex technical assessments — and by subject. 

Content catalogues may cover topics such as: 

  • Cyber security foundations 
  • Forensics and malware analysis 
  • Red team operations 
  • Packet capture filtering and characterization 
  • Traffic analysis 
  • Vulnerability assessments 

But training courses are just the beginning. Cyber range scenarios let you take learning a step further in a simulated exercise. Based on real threats, such as ransomware attacks and phishing attempts, scenarios provide the chance to apply new skills without risk. Team-based attack exercises also offer an opportunity to practice roles and work together. Similar to how pilots train in flight simulators, infosec professionals should test and train in a realistic environment to be even more capable and proficient. Cyber ranges make that possible.  

What to look for in cyber range training content 

Are the training courses customizable?  

A cyber range should supply ready-to-serve courses based on real-world incidents and forensics cases to learn and test new skills. 

However, it’s critical that you can author brand new content as well. That’s because your needs may not match up with the pre-built training catalogue, so having the choice to customize courses or scenarios (on your own or with the help of content creators) is key.  

Being able to evaluate training and tailor assessments to meet hiring needs will also help you assess job candidates and build the best possible team to defend your organization. 

Are the course creators credible?  

The content itself is critical but also pay attention to the creators behind it. Do they have extensive cyber security experience? Are they active in the industry, up to date on emerging threats, and in a position to create the most relevant training content?  

But it’s not just about being a cyber security expert — it’s also about knowing how to deliver a learning experience that’s effective and efficient. Content is one part of the equation; the cyber range design and training delivery capabilities matter too. 

Basically, top-tier content creators are equal parts cyber security experts and instructional designers. 

Elevate your cyber security training efforts 

The cyber security talent shortage and dynamic threat landscape make staying on top of training a must. But between course content and platform capability, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right cyber range for the job. 

You need a feature-rich platform that allows you to author and customize content and deliver it with the click of a mouse. You should be able to design, set up, replicate, and reuse content quickly, with access to the learning platform from any location with a secure browser and internet connection.  

With Field Effect’s Cyber Range®, you gain the tools and capabilities to easily stage a realistic training environment with the advantages of an extensive course catalogue. All content is flexible, analyst-driven, and informed by the work of our threat detection and incident response teams. 

To learn more about Cyber Range, reach out to us at letschat@fieldeffect.com today. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter below for access to insights about emerging risks, security tips, webinar invites, and much more.


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