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In the Cyber Range with NYU Cyber Fellows

22 June, 2021

On June 12 we hosted our second RangeForce Battle Fortress event with NYU Tandon School of Engineering. We pitted six teams of five students against each other in a live threat detection and response challenge in our cyber range. The 30 participants joined from across the nation to collaborate and compete remotely over the cloud-based RangeForce platform.

Our NYU Tandon School of Engineering participants were presented with a live-threat phishing scenario that involved an advanced, multi-stage payload. The threat exercise took place in a real-world, virtualized environment that is used by some of the world’s leading enterprise organizations to train security operations center (SOC) teams. During this challenge users administered leading enterprise cyber security tools to find a threat actor who was attempting to impact their fictional company.

To qualify for the event, participants had to independently complete 15 pre-requisite training modules on the RangeForce Battle Skills platform, which uses gaming techniques to simulate real-world scenarios. The prerequisite content included understanding Mitre ATT&CK TTPs, process injection incident response, and building firewall policies. Based on the scores from these training modules, participants were grouped into balanced teams.

One week before the event, participants received an orientation session that included “rules of the range” and a high level run through of the scenario they would be presented with during the 4-hour competition.

According to Aspen Olmsted, NYU Cyber Fellows Program Director, “This event provided a great opportunity for our students to apply classroom concepts and hands-on training from the RangeForce modules in a real-world, live action scenario where they were on the clock to detect and respond to an attack. Since our program is an online program, this competition also enabled students to collaborate with classmates they may not have worked with in the past.”

Following the event, each team had to submit a cybersecurity incident response report explaining the specifics of the incident observed and remediation steps taken to mitigate the malicious activity. Meanwhile, we provided each participant with an after-action report that included individual grading and scoring on identification, response, and future resilience measures to be implemented, as well as a review of their team’s overall performance in the drill.
The DefendersOnDuty team were declared the winners and received a year of free, full access to the RangeForce Battle Skills individual trainer.

Creed Huddleston, who is a Cyber Fellow at NYU Tandon School of Engineering and participated in the Battle Fortress event, said, “The RangeForce exercises offer a great way to learn and apply cyber defense techniques using real-world tools in a realistic environment, whether one is a beginner or an old pro. The competitions are well-run, fast-paced, and a real highlight of my cybersecurity education.”

These kinds of hands-on threat exercises are an excellent way to build learning experiences that demonstrate real-world situations. Students have the opportunity to refine technical skills while also developing the collaborative abilities that drive success outside of the classroom. We’re looking forward to our next threat exercise with the Cyber Fellows at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

To learn more about introducing cyber range threat exercises to your team, contact the RangeForce team here.

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