Keith Bromley
Sr. Manager, Product Marketing at Ixia

The Benefits of Cyber Range Training

April 3, 2018 by Keith Bromley

Organizations worldwide face a dangerous shortage of network security personnel that have the skills required to defend against cyber attacks. This urgent situation is made worse by the weaknesses and vulnerabilities that continue to pervade critical IT infrastructures—despite billions of dollars that have been invested in cyber security measures. Addressing these problems requires Internet-scale simulation environments, along with a comprehensive training curriculum and proven methodologies, to develop the skills necessary to defend and recover from attacks against the IT infrastructure.

One way to mitigate the problem is to conduct training so that network security engineers can at least recognize the basics of an attack. This can save minutes, maybe hours, of diagnostic time. For instance, it is one thing to read a driver’s manual on how to operate a car but a completely different situation to be able successfully drive the car after only reading the drivers manual. You may know what the gas and brake pedals look like, but understanding how much pressure to apply and when to apply the pressure makes all the difference between a safe start/stop and causing an accident. You need realistic simulated, if not actual, experience to fully understand how to operate the car.

The same is true with cyber security. It’s one thing to say, “I need to identify the malware and eliminate it” and another to actually accomplish the goal. You need practice to really understand how various components operate and how to recognize situations and indicators of compromise (IOC) as they start to happen in real-time (or have happened). Unlike the car driving example above, when your business network is under attack is not the appropriate time to practice, play games and run simulations. You’ve got one shot to do the best job possible and limit any damage as much as possible.

A cyber range gives your team the practical experience it needs to be able to see and defend against modern security attacks in the best manner possible. This is where they can get the experience they need to recognize threats faster and practice responding to them properly.

For instance, cyber range training provides a safe environment for personnel to:

  • Recognize patterns for security threats and compromise
  • Recognize threats faster and practice responding to them properly
  • Simulate critical infrastructure components, including computer servers and clients
  • Simulate and conduct offensive operations against enemy targets
  • Simulate and conduct defensive operations to protect critical infrastructure components

Simulators, like Ixia’s BreakingPoint solution, allow you to accurately create various types of malware and DDOS attacks. When BreakingPoint is combined with other pieces of equipment (like firewalls, security tools, network switches, etc.), you can create your own cyber range. Service offerings like this one allow you to set up the cyber range properly and then perform red team vs. blue team simulations to get the actual cyber security training needed.

Setting up a cyber security training event is excellent way for IT personnel to get the training they need. Once the cyber range is set up, you can tailor its capabilities as needed to focus on either specific attacks and what they look like, general operational behavior during an attack, or strategies to defend against attacks. This case study shows one example of how companies are using cyber ranges for training.

For more information, click here to see a list of additional resources that are available to help you.