NCMS Member Merit Network Expands Cybersecurity Footprint with Cyber Range

Most of Michigan’s citizens conduct online business with companies every day. You may be one of the millions of residents in our state that, possibly hundreds of times a day, downloads and uploads web-based information. Everything from business to banking, from education to property, from medical to transportation, and from defense to entertainment is hosted as digital information. And the unfortunate reality is that all of it is at risk to cyberattacks every day.

Consider the broad challenges that organizations face in effectively defending against cyberattacks, hacks, and leaks.  From people (employees and customers) to technology (owned and used), there are many variables that need to be addressed as part of any cyber-defense strategy.  This situation is further complicated by the dynamic nature of the digital landscape where the fast-paced development of advanced technologies only stands to change the ways in which our digital security forces must defend against threats.

In the world of physical security, police officers, military members, and federal investigators routinely train in the latest methods and strategies for protecting our citizens. Whether it’s applying the most cutting-edge driving tactics with a police cruiser or engaging the innovative components of a new search and rescue plan at a field assignment, these public defenders have consistently relied on recurring education courses, classes, and seminars to stay sharp. Why should the digital space be any different?

Enter the Michigan Cyber Range. Think of it as a “safe” environment where you can learn, practice, and evaluate defense capabilities.  Whether it is a technique, tool, process, or plan the Cyber Range can help you test it…except in this case, the test environment is accessed through a computer terminal.  Incidents and missions are created around real life-scenarios that include a town with everything you’d expect from any typical municipality: schools, power utilities, corporations, libraries, and a police department. Users of the Cyber Range are put through a series of exercises in scenarios that are created to mimic incredibly realistic cyber-attacks that could (and often do) occur in any community right here in our state. Merit Network, a non-profit, member-owned organization, created a cyber-security training department called Michigan Cyber Range. The Cyber Range helps teams learn how to work as teams and be effective defenders while building and maintaining skills.

Major corporations, agencies, departments, organizations, and education systems from around the state of Michigan can utilize the cyber range to help keep their information security teams on the cutting-edge of digital defenses.  This training provides new insights that help participants create and implement the more effective cyber-security strategies that prevent cyber-attacks. As citizens, we should be proud and made to rest easy, knowing that this latest tool has been deployed to help keep our critical information safe.