Gov. McAuliffe announces creation of Virginia Cyber Range

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Radford University is partnering in a statewide initiative to develop the workforce needed to keep data and systems safe from cyber threats.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the creation of a state-of-the-art platform for cybersecurity education called the Virginia Cyber Range.

The platform will provide advanced cybersecurity training exercises for high school and college students and revolutionize cybersecurity education within the Commonwealth, positioning Virginia to become a leading source of critical cybersecurity expertise for the nation.

As online attacks on financial, research and consumer data become more sophisticated and unpredictable, the need for leaders and innovators in the field of cybersecurity becomes ever more urgent.

“Cyber security is a key driver for the New Virginia Economy and we must ensure that Virginia has a pipeline of industry-ready cyber talent if we are going to be competitive,” McAuliffe said at the Virginia Cyber Physical Systems Summit in Newport News. “The Virginia Cyber Range provides a cutting edge environment where students can hone their cyber skills.”

The Virginia Cyber Range will work to produce more well-prepared graduates to enter the cybersecurity workforce. The project’s initial focus will be on serving community colleges and four-year institutions with offerings that will include modules for use in college courses, laboratory exercises and projects and realistic tactical cybersecurity trials that can supplement existing courses. Students will gain knowledge of digital forensics, network defense, how to secure critical infrastructure and the “internet of things,” malware detection, usability and privacy issues and secure coding practices. The project is expected to evolve to also serve K-12 students and other groups within the Commonwealth.

The Cyber Range will largely operate as a virtual center. Offerings will be crafted and hosted in the “cloud,” where they can be accessed by participating schools and agencies. This approach will allow for easy customization, scalability and responsiveness, while minimizing costs.

In addition to Radford, the initiative brings together faculty from George Mason University, James Madison University, Longwood University, Norfolk State University, Virginia Tech, Lord Fairfax Community College, Northern Virginia Community College and Tidewater Community College. These institutions were selected based on their federal designation as centers of academic excellence in cybersecurity or digital forensics.

The announcement comes on the heels of the National Cyber Security Summit in Huntsville, Alabama, at which Radford University was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Through 2021, Radford will be at the forefront of preparing graduates in cyber security and meeting the evolving demands of cybersecurity education. Radford is one of only six four-year institutions in Virginia designated as a CAE-CDE institution and one of only 127 four-year institutions in the country to earn the prestigious national designation.

Radford is at the forefront of several institutional cybersecurity initiatives.

Radford's Center for Information Security (CIS) offers programs that instruct K-12 students and area teachers in cyber security. The CIS also supplements the department's offerings with a certificate program in information security.

Cyber security is a key component of the curriculum of Radford’s M.S. Data and Information Management (MS-DAIM) program, the only such program in Virginia and the first STEM-H graduate program offered by the College of Science and Technology. The MS-DAIM degree program produces database engineers and administrators, data architects and information managers who design, develop and manage scalable information infrastructure and systems and processes to acquire, protect and deliver valuable information assets.

"Radford already has a Cyber Range that we use for our students, but this will allow other colleges and universities to access a modern Cyber Range to develop cyber skills in students," said Instructor Darrell Parsons, a Radford University representative on the Executive Committee of the Virginia Cyber Range. "We will also work to migrate our content from the Radford Cyber Range to the Virginia Cyber Range."

A demonstration of Cyber Range capabilities was provided at the Virginia Cyber Physical Systems Summit (Sept. 20-22, Newport News, Va.). The Cyber Range will support a limited number of classes beginning in January 2017.

Sep 22, 2016