Cybersecurity Leadership Table Top Simulation GameI’ve been teaching for SANS for over a decade and we’ve learned a lot while building out the Cybersecurity Leadership 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 that we continually have been expanding on since. We call it Cyber42. This cybersecurity leadership simulation game has been added to a number of SANS Cybersecurity Leadership courses and is also available in various short forms via “Game Days” at various times throughout the year for anyone to play. The courses that include Cyber42 within the course content are:
- MGT512: Security Leadership Essentials for Managers
- MGT514: Security Strategy, Policy, and Leadership
- MGT516: Managing Security Vulnerabilities: Enterprise & Cloud
- MGT520: Leading Cloud Security Design & Implementation
- MGT551: Building and Leading Security Operations Centers
- ICS418: ICS for Managers (coming soon)
Original Cyber42 Game Board - MGT512 version
How the Game Works
Individuals or 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. Players can 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 planned strategic initiative. In the game there are multiple events to which players will respond. The decisions that are made in response to these events will alter budgets, time, level of security functions, and ultimately the player’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 player/team needs to have the highest score.
In Q1-21 our engineering and technical teams have been doing additional work behind the scenes to improve capacity and user experience for our Game Days, as well. In Q4-21 a complete re-write of the code will take place to continue to enhance the user experience.
Web App "Board" - MGT514 version
Versions of Cyber42 Game Days
1. Security Capabilities
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.
2. CISO For A Day
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.
3. Vulnerability Management
This version of the game represents how well your fictional organization builds a vulnerability management program. It’s about maturing vulnerability management capabilities to mitigate and remediate the never-ending 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.
4. Industrial Edition
Maps to ICS418: Industrial Control Systems for Managers (coming Fall 2021)
This version of the game will put you through the paces as an industrial control system (ICS) security manager as players adapt to challenges in operational technology (OT) environments. Players will focus on balancing security program improvements that impact engineers, operations, and customers all while considering the various technical and cultural implications of an OT security program. ICS managers all face the same dilemma: How to protect industrial equipment from shut downs, failure, damage, or worse!
5. Security Culture
Maps to MGT521: Leading Cybersecurity Change: Building a Security-Based Culture (coming Fall 2021)
The impact of your cybersecurity program is no longer just about technology, rather organizational change. To have this level of influence, you must strive to change how people think about cybersecurity in what they prioritize and how they act. Not only does it help to create a far more secure workforce, but it also helps to ensure your security initiatives are more successful when you have buy-in from the entire organization. Your goal is not to change your organization’s existing culture but to embed security into the existing culture.
6. Security Operations Centers
The goal of this version is to make key decisions that will affect the people, process, and technology aspects of your security team, all while balancing available resources (budget and time) and optimizing results. This simulation will focus on the decisions required to build out and operate a security operations center. Each round will present students with a decision that must be made that will affect the budget and time allotted in both expected and unexpected ways, testing your ability to balance needs while maintaining a happy, functional SOC team. Your goal will be to build out the best SOC in terms of prevention, detection, response, and team morale, while not running out of time or money.
Maps to MGT512: Security Leadership Essentials for Managers
Maps to MGT514: Security Strategic Planning, Policy, and Leadership
This version of the game represents how a fictional organization responds to a ransomware event against the organization. Responses to ransomware events requires not only managing the event but also the expectations of key stakeholders and external parties.
8. COMING SOON! Cloud Security Design & Implementation
What Students are Saying about Cyber42
“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
"Cyber42 has allowed for collaboration with classmates, which I found very valuable." - Jeremy B., MGT516 student
“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
CYBER42 is now part of SANS Cyber Ranges. Learn more here.
Cyber42 Game Days 2021
Free and Open To The Community
Mark your calendars for the 4th Tuesday of each month (mostly) in 2021 at 10:30 ET for a 90 minute Cyber42 Game Day challenge! SANS Cybersecurity Leadership curriculum will be offering a free monthly Cyber42 Game Day, rotating versions throughout the year. This blog will be kept up-to-date with details and a link to register approximately 6 weeks prior to each event. Until linked to registration, version and leader subject to change based on availability.
|DATE||START TIME||CYBER42 VERSION||LEADER|
|Jan 26||10:30 ET | 3:30 GMT||Joe Sullivan|
|Feb 23||10:30 ET | 3:30 GMT||Jonathan Risto & Chris Denney|
10:30 ET | 2:30 GMT
|Kevin Garvey & Frank Kim|
|April 27||10:30 ET | 2:30 GMT||Joe Sullivan & Chris Denney|
|May 25||10:30 ET | 2:30 GMT||Security Capabilities||Kevin Garvey & Russell Eubanks|
|June 3||For attendees of |
CloudSecNext Summit only
Jonathan Risto, David Hazar, & Chris Denney
|June 22||10:30 ET | 2:30 GMT||Vulnerability Management||Jonathan Risto & Chris Denney|
|July 27||10:30 ET | 2:30 GMT||NEW! Industrial Version||Dean Parsons & Jason Christopher|
|Aug 24||10:30 ET | 2:30 GMT||NEW! Security Culture||Russell Eubanks & Kevin Garvey|
|Oct 26||10:30 ET | 2:30 GMT||NEW! Security Operations Centers||Mark Orlando & John Hubbard|
|Nov 16||10:30 ET | 3:30 GMT||NEW! Ransomware||Kevin Garvey|
Did You Say Challenge Coin?
Yes! If you are a student in a course, the members of the winning team receive a challenge coin!
(Coins are not distributed for Game Day winners as it's only a small sample of the entire game.)
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 Cybersecurity Leadership 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 DevSecOps Automation. Read more about Frank here.
ABOUT THE PROGRAMMER
Brandon works for Zoom Video Communications, in which he leads their internal Application Security training. 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 a SANS Certified Instructor, lead author for the SEC510: Public Cloud Security: AWS, Azure, & GCP and a contributor and instructor for SEC540: Cloud Security and DevSecOps Automation. Read more about Brandon here.