Skip Navigation

November 30, 2023 |

Bridging the cybersecurity skills gap with a cyber range

Last updated: February 22, 2024

Loading table of contents...

A recent ISC2 study found that 75% of cybersecurity professionals think the current threat landscape is the most challenging they've faced in the last five years. However, 67% of respondents say their organization has a shortage of cybersecurity staff needed to address threats effectively.

This problem is called the cybersecurity skills gap. Just as attackers are becoming more sophisticated and challenging, companies are struggling to find the resources to defend against them. We take a closer look at this issue and how cyber ranges may be able to help your team overcome it.

The cybersecurity skill gap problem

The ISC2 report from above also found that the cybersecurity workforce grew 8.7% over the last year. Despite this growth, the gap between the number of workers available and the number needed still increased by 12.6%.

These stats are problematic for impacted organizations. Leaders shouldn’t have to just accept the added risk of an understaffed cybersecurity team. If your company is one of many dealing with this problem, there are solutions available.

1. Hire more people

Of course, your first option is hiring more people to fill your organization's security gaps. But that can be tough to do in today's uncertain macroeconomic times.

Plus, 47% of cybersecurity professionals are dealing with budget cutbacks and layoffs. So for many, simply hiring more people is likely off the table.

Besides, it's also difficult to find true cybersecurity experts in the job market, as there are more than 750,000 unfilled jobs in this industry as of February 2023. So, it's not just tough to find the budget to hire good cybersecurity professionals. It's hard to find the people, too.

The bottom line? Hiring more people is not a solution most companies can rely on to deal with their cybersecurity skill gap.

2. Outsource some of your security needs

You can also outsource some (or the majority) of your company's security needs to a third-party provider. This option gives you access to the expert cybersecurity staff you need without having to dedicate time and effort to find, interview, hire, and train your new additions. Outsourcing can be a more flexible, cost-effective way to keep your business secure.

However, not all outsourcing providers are equal. You'll want to do some research to make sure you find a trusted company with proven expertise. The best option for you could also vary based on what parts of your cybersecurity you want to outsource.

Leveraging a managed security service, such as a managed detection and response (MDR) solution, could be the solution to offloading the weight of cybersecurity. The right MDR will monitor, detect, and respond to suspicious or malicious activity and vulnerabilities across your entire threat surface.

A managed solution makes it easy to get comprehensive security up and running for your company fast, with minimal lift on your part.

3. Develop an internal cybersecurity talent pipeline

Finally, you can develop an internal talent pipeline (at the same time improving your cybersecurity posture) with training. If you have staff in security-adjacent roles, such as IT, they may wish to develop or foster existing cyber skills, in turn addressing some of those shortages.  

And there are several ways you can do this. For example, you can send interested employees to training courses covering specific types of security incidents your company encounters.

Or, you can use a cyber range or other simulation-based training platform to upskill staff and rehearse incident response.

What's a cyber range?

cyber range is a virtual training environment security professionals use to practice identifying and resolving various cyber incidents. It's a safe platform that gives staff the chance to practice dealing with different types of cyber threats.

Most people learn best by doing, and cyber ranges give users the chance to do exactly that. Many platforms have a vast catalogue of training labs, team exercises, and more, based on real-world attacks to consistently deliver successful experiential learning outcomes.

For businesses with specific training needs, cyber range providers can often allow you to build your own courses or work with you to develop exactly what you need. These offer customized opportunities for practice in situations that are as close to the real thing as possible. 

Putting your workers through these exercises can help them gain new skills and prepare your company to deal with a wider range of potential attacks. Cyber ranges may also be the key to overcoming the cybersecurity skills gap without breaking your budget.

Get an up-close look at Cyber Range.

Take a peek inside the Cyber Range platform and its rich, virtualized environments, with these short demo videos.

Watch now

How cyber ranges help bridge the gap

Cyber ranges help companies overcome skill gaps through hands-on training in simulated environments. However, organizations can use cyber ranges for a wide array of purposes.

Find your team's strengths and weaknesses

We sometimes talk about the cybersecurity skills gap like it's this clearly defined thing, but it's often not. You may only know that you have a cybersecurity skill issue at your organization, not where the specific gaps lie. 

Cyber range assessments are great for this. They make it easy to identify your team's security strengths and weaknesses through hands-on exercises. Not only will you be able to tell how your team as a whole did, but you can also assess how individual employees performed in their roles. 

As users complete different exercises in the cyber range, it paints a picture of their skill set. You can start identifying each worker's strengths and weaknesses, and assign focused training to address the gaps more effectively. 

Upskill existing employees

Cyber range training can also be a strategy for upskilling your employees. For example, most cyber ranges offer courses varying in difficulty from foundational to advanced. These are often role-based as well, which makes it easier to identify and pursue role-specific training opportunities.  

This is a key reason why cyber range training can be effective for just about any tech professional on your staff. Whether you want to help a general IT administrator get better at cybersecurity or you're looking to upskill an existing analyst with training in a niche security matter, a cyber range can help. 

Better prepare security staff

During a cyberattack, response time can be really important. Even if someone on your team is eventually able to solve an issue, you don't want it to take so long that your company sustains serious damage in the process. 

This is another area where cyber ranges come in handy. They give your team the chance to practice responding to different types of security incidents in a controlled setting where you can tweak the scenarios to meet your unique needs. 

When your team encounters a similar issue, the recent training will give them a better idea of what they need to do to resolve the incident as quickly as possible. 

Maximizing the cyber range experience

Cyber ranges are what you make of them. They can give your employees the hands-on training they need to improve, but only if you use the right strategies and approaches.

With that in mind, here are five tips to consider as you work to give your cybersecurity employees the best training experience possible. 

Make sure your team has time for training

Most organizations recognize the value of training. But it's often difficult to find time for it when your employees are juggling conflicting priorities. Everyone agrees that more training would be a good idea, but it rarely seems to get done.

From a leadership perspective, the solution is to let your team know that training is a real priority. That may mean allowing staff to push deadlines when necessary to ensure they have enough time to fulfill their training.

Use real-world scenarios

Not all cyber range content is equal. Like other forms of training, quality can differ substantially. A good provider will always use realistic, real-world scenarios that are regularly updated to reflect new and emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures seen in the wild.

You can ask the company managing your cyber range for help if you don't know which scenarios to use. You may also want to consider practicing real-world scenarios from companies that operate in your industry to get a sense of the kinds of attacks your company may face.

Encourage role exploration

Cyber range training lets employees assume different roles in training scenarios. Moving your workers between roles can be helpful, even if they may have only one role in an attack.

This type of role exploration lets an employee experience the same attack from multiple perspectives. That can show them how an attack progresses and the different steps involved in beating it.

If a cross-trained employee encountered a similar attack in real life, they'd likely be a more effective teammate for resolving it, given the breadth of their training.

Invest in personalized learning paths

It's also important to recognize that each employee on your team has different skills and areas of expertise. If their cyber range training doesn't reflect their background, they may waste hours on lessons they don't need to relearn.

Security professionals can benefit from practicing things they already know. But you also want to make sure the time they spend in the range gives them the chance to upskill. The best way to do that is by adding a touch of personalization to the training process.

Use post-review exercises

Finally, it's essential to review the work your team does in the cyber range after finishing practice. Doing so helps to solidify lessons learned in each exercise and offers another chance to review the material after a hands-on training session.

Letting employees take time to reflect on the results of a course or scenario can help them identify where they may need additional training to be more effective in their role.

Take the first step with a cyber range

According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach has grown to $4.45 million. Companies can't afford to sit back and wait for their cybersecurity skills issue to cause this kind of damage.

A cyber range is a great way to both identify where your skill gaps exist and solve them. It could be the entire answer to your cybersecurity challenges or even one piece of a bigger solution.

Either way, your next step is to learn more about cyber ranges and what they can do for your team. Field Effect can help. We have experts standing by, ready to complete your free demo.

So why wait? Get in touch with us today to get started.