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Cybersecurity isn’t an annual or even quarterly obligation — it’s a continuous, cyclical activity. As cyber threats grow more sophisticated and complex, businesses must prioritize constant improvement to stay ahead.

True cyber readiness isn’t just about adopting adequate tooling or establishing an incident response plan. It requires ongoing training and practice. This is where internal teaming exercises come in, allowing both technical and non-technical teams to hone their skills, identify gaps in their defenses, and develop new strategies for mitigating risks.

The best way to prepare is through experience. Organizations need to put their defenses to the test in live-fire cyber range simulations. These simulators offer a safe and controlled environment for businesses to test their defenses against real-world threats. But before diving into this unique type of exercise, there are a few things you need to know. 

What Is a Cybersecurity Simulator?

A cybersecurity simulator is the ultimate test for cybersecurity professionals. Conducted by third-party providers, these live-fire exercises test an organization’s security skills, tools, and policies against simulated adversaries without the risk that comes from an actual attack. 

Cybersecurity simulations are a component of the broader concept of a cyber range, which encompasses various types of IT and cybersecurity simulations, not limited to live-fire attack scenarios.

Just as military and commercial pilots use flight simulators to prepare for worst-case scenarios, organizations can use cyber range simulators to enhance cyber readiness and prepare their teams for a real attack. 

While some organizations rely solely on red team vs. blue team exercises, these methods alone can only take an organization’s level of cyber readiness so far. A cyber range simulator surpasses the production limitations of teaming exercises, exposing an organization's defenses to the latest tactics, techniques, and exploits used by real, government-level threats.

Why Use a Cyber Range Simulator?

While independent teaming exercises can be useful, they have limitations. Their effectiveness is highly dependent on the limits imposed on the red team and what they can do against production systems.

Within a cyber simulation, teams don’t have to hold back on which assets they access or the effects they'd like to impose to demonstrate risk. A cyber range can simulate multi-stage attacks using a variety of techniques in a safe environment, enabling organizations to practice defending their most critical assets under the most dire scenarios.

By lifting the restrictions imposed by red teaming in a production environment and harnessing the capabilities of a cyber range simulator, organizations can experience realistic scenarios that mirror the pressure, urgency, and sophistication of genuine cyber attacks. This enables security professionals to gain the confidence and hands-on experience needed to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving threat landscape.

Additionally, cyber range simulations offer a cost-effective alternative to the investment required to hire, train, equip, and exercise internal red teams. Organizations can leverage the expertise and resources of a third-party provider, saving the time and expense associated with maintaining an in-house team of highly specialized professionals.

Ultimately, cyber range simulators provide a powerful solution that lifts restrictions, enhances preparedness, and offers a cost-effective approach to honing cybersecurity skills in the face of an ever-changing threat landscape.

5 Things to Know Before Entering a Cyber Range Simulator

Cyber range simulations provide a safe environment for security teams to experience cyber attacks, helping improve their recognition and response to new threats. Knowing what to expect is key to maximizing the benefits of these simulations. Before your team enters a cyber range simulator, make sure they are well-prepared and understand the purpose of the exercise. Here are five things to review with them before the big day:  

1. You Will Face Industry-Specific Attack Techniques

Depending on the cyber range platform capabilities, you can expect to face industry-specific simulations. This means your team will experience real attack methods seen in your respective sector. This allows teams to gain invaluable experience in defending against relevant threats and be better equipped to protect their organization's critical assets.

2. The Attacks May Be More Advanced Than You’re Accustomed To

Teaming exercises are only as effective as the people on those teams. That puts a ceiling on how much your team can improve internally. Cyber range simulations employ the most advanced threats and techniques available today to challenge security teams. It’s important to remember that the simulation is not designed to be easy or predictable; rather, it is designed to test your team’s abilities and provide valuable opportunities for growth. 

3. Study and Prepare

To maximize the benefits of training within a cyber range, give your team the time and resources they need to prepare. This includes not only studying and reviewing relevant material but also being well-rested and mentally focused. Tell your team to treat the simulation as a final exam to set the right tone for them to perform their best. Additionally, SimSpace offers over 1,000 hours of training materials to help security professionals become more familiar with the most advanced threats and response techniques.

4. It’s a Learning Experience

Although a cyber range simulation is similar to a game, these training exercises are a learning opportunity, first and foremost. Although there is no real danger, the stakes are high, and everything that occurs in the simulation can offer valuable insights. It's crucial to pay close attention to every strategy and movement during the simulation and review the post-exercise report in detail. By doing so, you can identify areas for continual security improvement.

5. It’s Okay to Lose

A cyber range simulation isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about achieving cyber readiness. Losing the simulation is an opportunity to learn something new. The post-exercise reporting provided by your cyber range platform is crucial for understanding what went wrong. By carefully studying the post-exercise recording with expert cybersecurity professionals and taking note of what worked and what didn't, your team can greatly improve their skills and knowledge in a short time frame.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Cyber range simulations are a critical tool for keeping your security posture up-to-date. By maximizing simulated training environments, organizations can achieve cyber readiness and improve threat detection and response capabilities against even the most complex and sophisticated cyber-attacks. 

With the SimSpace Cyber Force Platform, your organization gains access to a powerful tool that enables the quick setup of both your unique environment and attack scenarios tailored to your industry. These simulations comprehensively test your team's tooling, skills, and knowledge, equipping them with the expertise needed to defend against real-world cyber threats.

Our dedicated team of experts will help you leverage the insights gained from your cyber range exercise and prepare your team to face the latest cyber threats. 

Blog bySimSpace
SimSpace is the leading innovative cyber security platform for enabling risk reduction through operational quantification, testing and training. No other organization has SimSpace’s depth of experience in creating high fidelity cyber ranges with unique user and adversary emulation techniques.