A quick read of the headlines will show that, eventually, your organization will find itself in the crosshairs of a cyber-criminal.
When that happens, will your incident response plan hold its own, or will it crack under pressure?
Even if you are confident in your answer, an actual event isn't the time to find out if your team and security tools are up for the challenge. Although many factors are out of your control when responding to a cyberattack, there are some key things you can do.
One of the best methods is to prepare using a hyper-realistic, flexible, and highly configurable cyber range, which allows your team to simulate real-world cyber attacks in a safe environment.
So just what is a cyber range, and what can cyber range security do for your organization? This article will explore these answers and many more.
A cyber range is a realistic, controlled, virtual training environment specifically designed to provide hands-on learning scenarios and simulations for security professionals and those that work with them to protect against cyber threats.
Given their ability to replicate real network and client environments, simulate actual threat scenarios and attack patterns, and emulate network traffic, cyber ranges are great proving grounds for professionals — with NO impact on live production systems.
Though universities and government agencies traditionally used them, organizations of all sizes can now partner with a cyber range provider to get the training and performance they need, on-premises or hosted.
In a time with rapidly changing cyber threats and quickly evolving technology, it's not enough for your security team to rely just on certifications, training manuals, and tabletop exercises to protect your customers, your data, and your brand.
Instead, they need to experience them firsthand through realistic simulations.
A cyber range offers this experience to build preparedness and advanced skills in a secure and safe training environment by replicating realistic production systems and real cyber threats. In turn, not only will these simulations help to refine incident response plans and build confidence, but your team will also have much-needed opportunities for real-time feedback, cross-functional training, and deep insights into system and practitioner behavior.
And when you're ready for a new scenario or if your team wants to rerun the same event, it's easy to restart, refresh, and rework your cyber range until you've accomplished your training objectives.
Every organization has a unique attack surface, but your team needs to be ready for a common set of threats.
Cyber ranges can replicate situations, including an employee inadvertently clicking an email attachment, or even a sustained, advanced attack — and much, much more.
For example, the following are a few of the many scenarios, threats, and attack methods that your team can recreate in a cyber range to put your team through its paces.
Test if your current antivirus, incident detection, and data-loss prevention tools — among others within your layered defenses — are ready to withstand a fast-spreading malware attack trying to exploit data and looking for a way to call back to its command and control devices.
You've likely spent a lot of time and resources segmenting your network from different threats. Test how your team responds when an unauthorized network device connects and attempts malicious activity.
Ranging from misdirected emails to application failures, test your organization-wide response to data breaches that have the potential to damage your corporate reputation or breach your customers' privacy.
With bot armies easier to create and manage, DDoS attacks can cripple any organization. Test your systems' ability to detect and stop these attacks while your back-end infrastructure fails over to maintain continuity and availability.
Put your data backup and restoration procedures to the test by replicating a ransomware attack, and refine your response until the threats from these attacks are minimized.
The answer to this question may surprise you: Cyber ranges are great for many other uses besides replicating attack scenarios.
Below are some examples of what cyber ranges can be used for:
Seeing a product demo in a controlled environment is one thing; putting the prospective tool to the test in your own cyber range to see how it responds before you invest time, money, and other resources into it is quite another. Know exactly what you are getting and how a new product fits within your security controls by first testing it in your cyber range.
Want to see firsthand just how well a candidate responds under pressure? Cyber ranges are one of the most effective ways to evaluate a candidate's technical, leadership, and communication skills. The results can then be used to identify post-hire learning objectives or balance out more traditional interview methods.
You likely have a variety of talent and experience on your security team; offer each employee the training and learning experiences they need to keep growing in their role — individually and as a team — and capture the necessary data to monitor and aid in their development.
Once your organization has decided to use a cyber range, there are a few more important elements to consider to ensure you have the environment that best meets your needs.
Is your organization looking for an in-house cyber range or a hosted platform as a service? Do you need specialized software, hardware, and network equipment to deploy for advanced simulations and training, or is your team just getting its cybersecurity program started?
Identifying answers to scoping questions like these and other requirements will help your team find the right solution to fit your needs and budget.
Cyber range security can now be deployed on-premises or in your own cloud, or it can be offered as a service. Decide whether your team has the know-how and ability to administer and manage a cyber range on its own or if you want to focus on the experience and not the back-end management of the platform.
Whatever your answers are to the above questions, you next need a cyber range partner that can give your team the tools, learning scenarios, data, reporting, security, and experience that your team needs to continue its security evolution. When making your selection, pick a provider with a proven track record and a tested, high-fidelity platform capable of delivering what your security professionals need.
No organization can make itself entirely invincible to cyber threats. Still, cyber range technology has proven to be a powerful and effective way to develop and enhance your security team's incident response abilities.
With their ability to quickly deploy different scenarios, drills, and testing situations — and aid in candidate and product selection — cyber ranges can give your organization a much stronger chance of blunting the impact of a cyberattack, containing the potential damage, and minimizing your attack surface.
And, given that the average cost of a cybersecurity breach in the United States reached $8.6 million in 2020, it should be no problem to justify your investment in your team's training.
Are you ready to put your team to the test with real-world, heart-pounding simulations? Then contact SimSpace for your own personalized consultation and make sure to download our latest resource, The Comprehensive Guide to Cyber Ranges.
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