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Training Tomorrow’s Cyber Warriors
Baltimore Cyber Range

October 2017

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (third from left) and Gov. Larry Hogan (to the right of Pugh) open Baltimore Cyber Range.

In Maryland, “Open for Business” isn’t just a slogan – it’s a commitment. Under Governor Larry Hogan’s leadership, the state – and in particular, the Maryland Department of Commerce – is focused on attracting and retaining businesses, creating jobs and growing Maryland’s economy. And the effort is paying off.

In August, for example, Governor Hogan joined Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, officials of Electronic Technology Associates (ETA), Israeli-based Cyberbit and other dignitaries to open the Baltimore Cyber Range. Located in Spark Baltimore in Baltimore City, the state-of-the-art training center will provide cybersecurity professionals with the most advanced cyber warfare strategies in an environment that simulates real threats.

The project took root during the governor’s September 2016 trade mission to Israel, where he met with ETA President Bruce Spector and Cyberbit President Adi Dar. The discussion centered around ways in which the advanced technologies developed by Cyberbit in Israel could be brought to Maryland, to create more high-paying, career-oriented jobs in the state.

Cyberbit supplies cybersecurity products to enterprises, governments and military organizations around the world. The company provides cybersecurity protection for critical infrastructure facilities, power grids, transportation systems, financial institutions and other entities. As a wholly owned subsidiary of defense giant Elbit Systems, a global provider of flight simulators and other military training and simulation systems, Cyberbit benefits from the experience and expertise of its parent company.

Leveraging this unique experience, Cyberbit created the Cyberbit Range, a platform for training and certifying cybersecurity professionals in a hyper-realistic simulated environment. The Range includes an Attack Generator, which accurately simulates a broad range of cyber attacks, a comprehensive catalog of attack scenarios and a Network Generator that emulates most networks.

Together, the Attack Generator and the Network Simulator – along with a training and learning platform that includes instructor aids, video debriefing and a comprehensive feedback system – provide the foundation for an effective training and simulation range. This system can show students how an attack damages a system from start to finish – from penetration of the network through all phases of the damage the attack causes – in a hyper-realistic, controlled environment. With these tools, trainees can practice in an environment similar to their actual workplace.

It’s these tools that ETA and Cyberbit brought to Baltimore, forming the technology base of the Baltimore Cyber Range. Operating as The Baltimore Cyber Range LLC, and led by Mike Doyle, a former senior scientist in cybersecurity with the U.S. government, the range is powered by the Cyberbit Range Platform. As such, the center provides cybersecurity training and improved security team performance by providing a hyper-realistic virtual training environment, advance training tools and simulated attack scenarios.

With its unique capabilities, the Baltimore Cyber Range is quite possibly the first of its kind in the U.S. The range:

• Provides a dynamic architecture, allowing trainers to customize the training environment to replicate the specific network and security tools that trainees will use in real life;

• Trains the entire organization including, for example, business and finance positions, as they are often involved in an incident and required to make quick decisions during the incident;

• Simulates attacks on critical infrastructure and includes ICS/SCADA attack scenarios as well as actual SCADA hardware as part of the training environment setup; and

• Provides computer-generated attack simulation – including simulated attacks that evolve across time and work shifts – that accurately replicates today’s evolving, advanced and targeted attacks.

In addition, the Baltimore Cyber Range replicates a fully functioning security operations center (SOC), which can also be used to test out and train employees on new software and hardware products.

The Baltimore Cyber Range LLC, a public-private partnership, applied for and received an EARN Maryland workforce grant from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR). To qualify for the grant, ETA assembled the Intrusion Countermeasures Education and Training (ICE-T) Consortium, comprising nine private and three public partners, with the goal of providing Marylanders with the necessary skills and training to obtain an entry-level cybersecurity position or to significantly upgrade the skills of existing cyber warriors.

ICE-T partners are collaborating to identify the short- and long-term workforce needs and training requirements in the cyber sector, and identify Maryland candidates for training and potential employment. Each consortium partner will be represented on the ICE-T board of directors, which will refine and approve the curriculum, review applicants and maximize the program’s effectiveness.

The curriculum – organized as eight training modules – was developed with EARN grant funding and is designed to address three levels of IT and cyber professionals:

• Entry Level: Two modules of basic training, with the goal of gaining the knowledge required to obtain an entry-level position or internship or to qualify for further training;

• Journeyman Level: Three modules that build on the Entry Level, with the training developed by ETA and the goal of providing training for cybersecurity, network employment and SOC operations; and

• Expert Level: Three modules of expert-level training for current cyber professionals, with the goal of significantly expanding their skill set.

Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) will identify and guide 32 students through two semesters of entry-level training. Each consortium partner will provide three positions in the Journeyman or Expert-Level programs. The EARN funding also allows BCCC access to 400 hours of Baltimore Range time.

ICE-T consortium partners benefit from actively participating in and driving the training process to meet current industry needs, expanding the pool of potential employees and gaining access to advanced training.

An idea that germinated in Israel, during Governor Hogan’s trade mission, took root in Baltimore as government and the private sector came together to form the Baltimore Cyber Range. It’s just one example of how working together, Maryland is creating jobs, building careers and growing businesses. I95