ICS NetWars

Hands-on, interactive learning scenarios to help Operational Technology security professionals master system defense.


ICS NetWars is a suite of hands-on, interactive learning scenarios that enable Operational Technology (OT) security professionals to develop and master the real-world, in-depth skills they need to defend real-time systems. Designed to be accessible to a broad level of player skill ranges.

Scenarios & Levels

The Delicious Edible Foods (DEF) is a fictional multinational food manufacturing company specializing in cookie and snack food products. The company utilizes highly automated and secret manufacturing processes which have contributed to extraordinary growth and profits. Recently, DEF has begun receiving customer complaints about "mixed bag" packaging which included random cookie types mixed into packages where they didn't belong presenting serious health risks to consumers with food allergies. An FDA investigation is underway and lawsuits have already been filed. Your mission: identify if DEF has been compromised, defend the operation environment and reinstate confidence in the safety and quality of the process.

Level 1

  • ICS NetWars provides participants with a challenging scenario facing an operational process control environment. Players will be challenged to develop a full understanding of the environment, equipment, infrastructure, and vulnerabilities throughout Level 1 play.

Level 2

  • As players enter into Level 2, they will access 100's of data artifacts from within the simulated process environment and will need to perform analysis, forensics, and incident response activities in order to complete Level 2.

Level 3

  • Players are provided a series of host and network data sets as well as virtual machines to use as they perform direct analysis of ICS specific adversary activity within a process environment.

Level 4

  • Players will directly interact with a live process environment within the DEF cookie factory, as they work to validate and verify the integrity of the control system environment.

Level 5

  • Factory vs factory competition model will be developed at a later date.

Adversary Actions

  • Spear Phishing
  • Command and Control
  • Credential theft
  • Lateral and vertical movement
  • Security configuration modification
  • Process manipulation
  • ICS specific malware

Blue Team (Defender) Actions

Participants play the role of Incident Responder analyzing collected artifacts including system event and security logs, firewall logs, network diagrams, system as-built information and many other items to answer a series of questions. The goal is to identify what happened, how to stop the damage, and how to restore consistency and reliability to the process.

Laptop Requirements

  • 64-bit system
  • Laptop with at least one USB port
  • Laptop must include Wireless capabilities
  • Latest VMware Player or admin privileges with the ability to install VMplayer and enable VT support in BIOS
  • Ability to disable all security software on your laptop, including antivirus and/or firewalls
  • At least 30 GB of free hard-drive space (50 GB recommended)
  • At least 8 GB of RAM
  • Laptop with Windows 7 or higher installed on the host or in a Virtual Machine is helpful for many questions

For more information about ICS NetWars email us at ics@sans.org.


ICS NetWars Tournament Schedule

All scheduled ranges and tournaments will run virtually.

Please check back for more details as future events will be added for SANS Community members. Join the community now.

NetWars is challenging for all levels of expertise, has great hints if you get stuck, and promotes continuous education.
Jon-Michael Lacek
- Wegmans Food Markets
Core NetWars was challenging but not frustrating for newbies. This is my first time doing NetWars and it has been a blast.
Rachael Murray
- Northwestern Mutual
Having participated in NetWars Continuous and in the NetWars Tournament, I can honestly say that they were the most intellectually challenging and enjoyable tests of technical skills in which I have participated.
Kees Leune
- Adelphi University