I’ve been teaching for SANS for over a decade and we’ve learned a lot while building out the Cybersecurity Management Curriculum. We have great authors and instructors who have created amazing content, labs, and exercises. These include hands-on technical labs, case scenarios, group discussions, and longer business case studies like the ones from Harvard Business School.
In 2020 we added something new to the mix. We call it Cyber42. This cybersecurity leadership simulation game has been added to a number of SANS Cybersecurity Management courses and is also available in various short forms via “Game Days” at various times throughout the year for anyone to play.
- MGT512: Security Leadership Essentials for Managers
- MGT514: Security Strategy, Policy, and Leadership
- MGT516: Managing Security Vulnerabilities: Enterprise & Cloud
- MGT520: Leading Cloud Security Design & Implementation
Original Cyber42 Game Board - MGT512 version
HOW THE GAME WORKS
Teams play to improve the state of security for a fictional organization. Just as in real life, any program has constraints, such as time, money, and resources. Students are required to manage their resources even amongst changing tides and requirements within the organization. They must capitalize on the schedule and available resources to accomplish necessary tasks in a timely and effective manner. Team members interact with one another in order to maximize the results of their program. This type of interactive simulation puts students in real-world scenarios that spur discussion, critical thinking of situations, and melding of different points of view and personalities that they will encounter at work.
As students progress in the game, they choose different initiatives to implement. These initiatives are larger, strategic activities that drive change for the organization. By the end of the game various different initiatives are implemented.
Just like in the real world, however, unexpected events can arise that delay or even possibly derail a team’s planned strategic initiatives. In the game there are multiple events to which teams will respond. The decisions that are made in response to these events will alter teams’ budget, time, level of security functions, and ultimately the team’s final score.
In each version of the game, the score is measured by dials representing various concepts covered in that course. The dials run on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the lowest score and 5 being the highest.
Winning the game is simple. A team needs to have the highest score.
Web App "Board" - MGT514 version (Programming by SANS Instructor, Brandon Evans)
VERSIONS OF CYBER42:
Security Capabilities – maps to MGT512: Security Leadership Essentials for Managers
This version of the game represents how well your fictional organization builds and leads a security program. It’s about balancing the implementation of various security controls to build a well rounded program and, ultimately, create lasting security improvement. The score is measured by dials representing Identify, Protect, Detect, and Respond which show how much your team has implemented for each of these areas.
CISO For A Day – maps to MGT514: Security Strategy Planning, Policy, and Leadership
This version of the game represents how well your fictional organization builds and leads a security program. It’s about aligning security capabilities to strategic objectives to ensure that your security program is helping to meet business goals. The score is measured by dials representing Decipher, Develop, Deliver, and Lead which show how much your team has implemented for each of these areas.
Vulnerability Management – maps to MGT516: Managing Vulnerabilities: Enterprise & Cloud
This version of the game represents how well your fictional organization builds a vulnerability management program. It’s about maturing vulnerability management capabilities to mitigage and remediate the neverending stream of security vulnerabilities. The score is measured by dials representing Identify, Analyze, Communicate, and Treat which show how much your team has implemented for each of these areas.
What Students Are Saying About Cyber42 Games
“I am learning a lot from the Cyber42 Security Event games.” – Crystal Chatam, MGT512 Student
“I want to participate again and again. It was just awesome.” – Cyber42 CISO For A Day participant
“I liked how comprehensive the scenarios were. You have to work through several aspects in order to formulate an answer and then get ranked on a number of different facets. The addition of the time constraint to provide your answers is just a nice little bonus of stress but makes it fun. It's good to work through table-top exercises on a management level. Thanks for putting this together.” – Cyber42 Vulnerability Management participant
“Thank you for creating the game, it helps to get people understand the choices to be made.” - Cyber42 CISO For A Day participant
“You guys rock! Great and high quality content!!” - Cyber42 CISO For A Day participant
“Great initiative!! It's a big learning for me that if the impact and likelihood is not assessed properly then our remediation plan will be bound to fail.” – Cyber42 Vulnerability Management participant
Did You Say Challenge Coin?
Yes! If you are a student in a course, the members of the winning team receive a challenge coin!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frank is the Founder of ThinkSec, a security consulting and CISO advisory firm, as well as a SANS Fellow and lead for both the SANS Management and SANS Cloud Security curricula, overseeing nearly 30 SANS courses in the two fastest growing curricula. Previously, as CISO at the SANS Institute, Frank led the information risk function for the most trusted source of computer security training and certification in the world. Frank is also the author and instructor of MGT512: Security Leadership Essentials for Managers, MGT514: Security Strategic Planning, Policy, and Leadership, and co-author of SEC540: Cloud Security and DevOps Automation. Read more about Frank here.
ABOUT THE PROGRAMMER
Brandon is a Senior Application Security Engineer at Asurion, where he provides security services for thousands of his coworkers in product development across several global sites responsible for hundreds of web applications. As an application developer for most of his professional career, he moved into security full-time largely because of his many formal trainings through SANS. He’s a contributor to the OWASP Serverless Top 10 Project and a co-leader for the Nashville OWASP chapter. Brandon is lead author for the new SEC510: Multicloud Security Assessment and Defense and a contributor and instructor for SEC540: Cloud Security and DevOps Automation. Read more about Brandon here.