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October 29, 2019 |

What is the true cost of a cyber range?

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Unlike online courses and classroom training, cyber ranges provide practical, hands-on experience to prepare IT teams for their next cyber security threat. By training your team to respond to real-world incidents and scenarios, you can reduce the damage, expense, and downtime from cyber attacks.

But what about the financials? Have you considered all the necessary elements in your budget? Do you know the true cost of a cyber range?

Breaking down the costs of a cyber range

Using cyber range solutions is often the only way to ensure ultimate readiness. You can customize and stage training based on your IT environment or modify scenarios, re-train, and repeat training continuously.

Getting the green light to put a cyber range in place indicates your organization is well ahead of the pack. Whether you’re building an in-house cyber range solution or purchasing something out of the box, a good understanding of all of the elements needed and the costs is the right place to start.

The cyber range platform

The cyber range platform is often considered the only significant cost. However, it's only one element of the solution and can vary wildly depending on your choice. Options and customizations can largely swing the cost. 

For example, do you plan on hosting the platform or relying on another provider for hosting? What are your training or testing needs? Are you doing classroom or team-based training? Do you need the cyber range to provision a test environment before deploying products to a live environment?

All of these factors will help you determine the functionality you will need in a platform.

Field Effect Cyber Range Red vs Blue Demo in Cyber Range Training Platform.

The hardware

The hardware required to run a cyber range can make up 60% or more of your total costs, depending on whether you run this using an on-premise or online platform, and how you plan to scale it for your needs in the future.

You need to consider enough resources to accommodate all the virtual machines used by different team members at the same time. What about courses or training that your team may be doing on their own time? Do you plan to schedule usage so the hardware can be used in the off-time for something else?

You may think the training scenarios you’re running are very simple, yet, if you introduce any complexity—more participants, new elements—hardware could be a large cyber range expense.

The software

The software used in cyber ranges is another expense, and it's often overlooked. Licensing for software used in the scenario or training materials isn’t free. You may have the option to trial licenses, but eventually, that becomes hard to maintain or may not deliver the realism you need.

For example, you can’t create a Windows domain with trial versions, and you can't stage a realistic Windows environment without a domain. You can use Linux and other open-source tools like Kali for teaching concepts, but if your team uses something else in their day job, this isn’t the best way to train.

The human resources

You can create the content yourself and tailor it to your environment—but that means someone on your team is now developing content instead of their day job. Whether made in-house or purchased externally, content comes at a cost.

The system administrators

Maintaining your cyber range is a smaller line item, but it's still important to consider. This is usually included as part of the solution and may be hosted by the provider.

If you plan to deploy on-premise, your IT team may be able to administer the cyber range. However, if you plan to deliver the training on a regular basis, this may not be a scalable option. You may eventually need a team member dedicated to maintaining and managing all the elements of the cyber range solution.

One-time cyber range training or pay-as-you-go?

Costs can add up quickly with all of these different cyber range components. With your budget in mind, you have two options to consider: running a one-time training event or choosing a pay-as-you-go solution.

One-time training event

You can use your entire budget to stage a one-time training event where a solution provider creates the scenario, stands up all the hardware, manages software licensing, and runs the platform during the event. Some can even supply the red team as a good defence.

This may look like a comprehensive option but it has drawbacks. It:

  • Only delivers the experience of a specific scenario
  • Can be challenging to train all team members at one time
  • Doesn’t leave you options for ongoing training

Pay-as-you-go solution

The second option is to find a solution that fits within your budget and scales with your needs. Some solutions are flexible enough to enable you to start small and pay a per-seat license on content.

This pay-what-you-use model will allow you to:

  • Evaluate your team members individually or as a group
  • Target your training as needed using on-demand content
  • Modify or create your own content as needed

Getting started with a cyber range

Choosing the best cyber range solution for your budget requires a good understanding of your training needs, all of the elements required in a cyber range, and careful evaluation of the solutions available.

To get a better sense of the capabilities of a cyber range, check out our Cyber Range platform or reach out to our team to learn more about how a cyber range can meet your needs.