CyberCity Education Platform

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CyberCity Education Platform: Functional Training and Practice
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Team Members The George Washington University, Georgetown University, The Capital Area Research and Education Network (CAAREN), Merit Networks, 22 Capital Partners
Point of Contact Donald DuRousseau
Participating Municipalities Washington DC; The Gramercy District Loudoun County VA; Montgomery County MD
Status Launched
Website
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Description

  1. Expand upon an existing NSF CICI grant at GW to extend regional access to the Michigan Cyber Range over CAAREN (100 Gbps DWDM network interconnected with Internet2) and develop enhanced real-world training environments using an advanced software defined multi-service exchange (MSX) technology.
  2. Establish a city-wide cyber representation of the IT infrastructure, underlying operational work flows, utilities management, emergency services and administrative operations as a platform for cybersecurity training in offensive and defensive tactics.
  3. Provide customizable courses and training practicum that can be configured to mimic the systems being tested by teams of cybersecurity engineers and their non-technical managers.

Challenges

Cyber attacks on governments, universities, hospitals, businesses and individuals will continue to escalate and no entity is immune from hackers.

Solutions

The best means to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and infrastructure systems is through focused and specialized education and training that moves beyond the typical classroom instruction to deliver hands-on practicums using immersive and true-to-life city-wide systems and operational practices so learners can gain real world experience and practice defending complex IT systems. The goal of this project is to enable novel approaches to cybersecurity education and training that meets the ever-increasing demands on cities to protect and defend their critical infrastructure and data from unwanted attacks.

Major Requirements

Provide Internet2 gigabit connectivity between the Michigan Cyber Range and GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus (VSTC) to make the range available to students in academia and industry across the Metro DC Region. We will work with GW’s Cyber Academy to develop new courses and hands-on practicums that take advantage of the sophisticated virtual city to better prepare students for defending and attacking adversaries bent on damaging city infrastructure, stealing classified information, or injecting malware/ransomware into critical systems. Once new courses have been developed that take advantage of the Cyber Range, they will be integrated into undergraduate and masters degree programs and new certifications will be provided for traditional and non-traditional students. Through the use of the MSX, the Cyber Range environment will scale to provide access to hundreds and potentially thousands of students in the mid Atlantic region.

Performance Targets

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Measurement Methods

Successful measures of performance for this project will include the expansion of the Cyber Range environment by adding capabilities to monitor and protect critical PLC and SCADA devices routinely used in public utilities, power plants, industrial systems, and vehicles. More importantly, the environment will be used to increase the number of credit bearing certifications awarded to adult students in colleges and universities throughout the region by at least 25%, and will establish a training pipeline for middle and executive managers in industry who require more than a basic cybersecurity education. If successful, the CyberCity Education Platform will be capable of delivering courses and hands-on training curriculum to hundreds of students per month from several campuses and venues in the mid-Atlantic region.

To measure the KPI of this project, we will assess the current number of cybersecurity graduates from GW and other Universities and Colleges in the Metro DC Region and compare that to the number of certificates awarded and graduation rates of the bachelors and masters degree programs.

Standards, Replicability, Scalability, and Sustainability

The goal of the CCEP is to provide cybersecurity students and practitioners with a realistic environment that can be scaled from a single office or institution to and entire city, encompassing all the layers of IT operations and the integration of those systems in a realistic platform that allows the study of cyber attack and defense strategies to be tested at scale. Creation of a virtual city, including administrations, utilities, hospitals and emergency services will allow existing methods of cybersecurity command and control to be modeled and new methods evaluated to develop standard policies and processes for dealing with cyber attacks at any point in the city-wide IT infrastructure. The Michigan Cyber Range was established as a scalable testbed, which includes the capability of integrating a 3D virtual representation of a small city referred to as Alphaville. From this core effort, GW researchers have integrated the range with the MSX platform to allow large scale expansion of the basic capabilities provided in the range, integration of new city components, including PLC and SCADA systems used across a typical city, and expansion of the graphical representations integrated with the range education and training capabilities. This effort will produce a customizable platform to easily model a city’s IT infrastructure, processes and policies to ensure replicability, scalability, and sustainability of the CCEP.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Impacts

Impacts include the expansion and upgrade of a scalable cybersecurity education and training environment that can be easily customized to represent a city’s IT infrastructure. The CCEP can then be used to develop educational programs and course curriculum that are specific for the city systems being investigated. Additionally, real world scenarios can be implemented that will allow teams of cybersecurity students and/or professionals to train within a realistic representation of the city, thereby improving the skills of the practitioners and lowering the cost of cybersecurity training overall through the ease of standing up each individual’s virtual training space. We anticipate significant economic benefit through the creation of a pipeline of cybersecurity professionals with improved skills who can fill the thousands of positions currently open across the country. Additionally, the customizability of the MSX powered range will lead to increased adoption of the CCEP by independent organization, communities, small towns, and major cities.

Demonstration/Deployment

A purpose-built Cybersecurity Course that utilizes the CCEP has been designed and will be demonstrated at the GCTC Expo in August 28-29,2017. A Capture The Flag event will also be demonstrated where multiple teams of cyber attackers and city defenders interact and compete to achieve their intended team goals.