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    What Is A Cyber Range And Why Is It Important?

    Cyber ranges are virtual environments where companies can simulate cyberattacks and practice their defense. These useful IT realms are interactive representations of any organization’s locally connected network, applications, tools, and systems, used to simulate an actual Internet-level environment.

    These ranges are designed for training purposes, helping employees to get hands-on experience in cyber skills.

    They are also used as a secure environment for security posture testing and product development.

    Most cyber ranges are customized to replicate an organization's technical infrastructure by using licensed versions of the same set of security tools that are used by SOC Analysts on a daily basis.

    The use of commercial solutions may vary, but almost all ranges utilize open-source solutions.

    In this article, we will help you understand the concept of cyber ranges and their importance.

    A Brief History Of Cyber Ranges

    In the early days of cybersecurity, cyber ranges required large investments and were only limited to use by the Department of Defense. They opened up various opportunities to assess and identify vulnerabilities by making use of a risk-free environment for testing security technologies and infrastructure. These testing facilities were only permitted for use by authorized staff; hence most of the cyber tests were performed under classified secret networks.

    With the overall increase in cyber threats worldwide, next-gen cyber ranges came into the picture. It started with GovTech launching the first range in Michigan in 2012. These next-gen ranges eliminated the costs of expensive infrastructure by using cloud-based access, coupled with the ability of controlling consumption-based usage.

    Why Training Matters

    It is an undeniable fact that the number of cyber threats, and their complexity, have increased substantially over the last decade. In tandem, the number of security solutions collecting signatures and threat logs has increased too. 

    For instance, the recent data from McAfee shows that the financial sector deals with more than 200,000 security alerts on a daily basis. To counter these threats, most organizations are forced to deploy between 100 and 200 different security solutions. 

    Here are some reasons why training your staff is of key importance:

    • Traditional IT security training is mostly theoretical. Cyber ranges allow organizations to prepare their security teams to face multidimensional threats in a hyper-realistic simulated environment.
    • Cyber ranges provide an environment for product testing, and are a scalable way of training every member of an organization.

    How Cyber Range Solutions Can Help

    A next-gen cyber range helps organizations and prepares SOC analysts to test vulnerabilities for real-world cyberattacks that go beyond conventional IT security training. This is achieved by enhancing and strengthening the identification, response, and countering of cyber threats. In essence, this can be an excellent solution to the lack of employees’ cybersafety skills which is often felt within most organizations.

    According to The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, a modern-day cyber range provides:

    • A virtual environment where organizations can easily validate new ideas and brainstorm to solve complex and dynamic cyber problems.
    • A scalable method to train employees about the threats and their solutions using performance-based simulations and assessments.
    • A safe space where cross-functional teams can work in conjunction to improve product development and work on vulnerabilities. It also helps improve teamwork and collaboration.
    • Real-time experience that is cloud-based and fully scalable.
    • A cost-effective way of delivering safe and realistic environments for training staff on micro to full-scale simulations of cyberattacks.
    • A sandbox environment for product feature testing in a controlled manner.
    • A common platform for Product POC, Sub-Network Pentesting, and Cyber Research  

    Who Can Use Them?

    Cyber ranges can be used by almost everyone. However, here are some groups that can benefit from it the most:

    • Professionals - People working in the following sectors: Information Technology, law enforcement, SOCs, incident managers, cybersecurity, and more. 
    • Students - They can use them to sharpen their skills and knowledge by working in simulated real-world environments to develop cyber skills while preparing for certifications and assessments in the field of IT, CS, and/or cybersecurity.
    • Organizations - For training cross-functional teams and evaluating their security measures. Cyber ranges can also be used for testing products and developing new technical protocols before introducing them to the market.
    • Educators - They can use them as a virtual aid to teach groups about the subject. Also, the ranges can be used to assess knowledge.

    Bottom Line

    Cyber ranges have evolved a lot since their inception. It is important for organizations and individuals to get used to these virtual environments to improve their knowledge and skills in the dynamic cybersecurity field. As organizations face an increasingly high number of complex threats, simulating these threats in a virtual and controlled environment will help them combat these threats.