We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. Read More Allow Cookies

Project Lead:

Dr Hazel Murray (hazel.murray@mtu.ie)

Project Status

In Progress

Project Lead Home Department:

MTU Cork - Science and Informatics - Computer Science

Alignment to HEA and NFETLHE SATLE 2022-23 Themes

  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD);

Alignment to MTU Strategy Themes

  • Learner Education & Experience;
  • People & Community;
  • Leading Regional Development;
  • Global Outlook;

Project Description

This project will work with students and domain experts to develop and build cyber-range labs and scenarios that can be used by all computer science and cybersecurity students to upskill in cybersecurity using real-world scenarios in a safe and gamified environment.

Whenever we are trying to master a new skill, practice is essential. So given that we don’t want to create intentional breaches in our IT systems, how do we train cybersecurity students to deal with the challenging ever-changing cyber-threat environment? The answer is a Cyber Range!

The CyberSkills/MTU-owned Cyber Range is the only technology of its kind in the country and provides a secure, sandboxed virtual interactive training environment that can simulate real-world scenarios. However, while the cyber-range has a demonstrated advantage for students' experience and preparation for the workforce, the development of the lab environments comes with a significant initial overhead for lecturers and the current list of available labs needs to be expanded.

The objectives of this project are:

  • Promote the use of the cyber-range as a cybersecurity training technology that enables students to learn real-world cybersecurity skills in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Create industry-informed high-impact labs that will be utilised across multiple courses and modules and advocate for co-development with students.
  • Stimulate the sharing of Cyber Range lab setups between lecturers and collate a large taxonomy of lab environments.

What is the anticipated impact of this project?

The cyber-range will transform cybersecurity education at MTU and result in an exceptional educational experience for our students, by developing practical cybersecurity skills, and easier grading and facilitation for lecturers, by providing guidance and checkpoints for marking.

This project will generate at least 10 high-quality industry-focused labs and create a database of sharable lab environments and templates. The project will publicise the benefits of using the cyber-range across the university and will have a lasting impact on staff and students making the cyber-range a central aspect of education at MTU. In the future, through the dissemination of the project, multi-disciplinary exercises are envisaged. Hundreds of students across MTU's computer science department and CyberSkills’ three partner universities will directly benefit from the created labs every year.

To date, the cyber-range has been successfully utilised, with positive student feedback, in many CyberSkills courses. However, it has seen limited use in MTU, resulting in only 10-15% of students getting exposure to the cyber-range. Additionally, the majority of lecturers are using the preinstalled labs only. By demonstrating the value of the cyber-range and providing lab templates, we hope to provide further impact by encouraging lecturers to create labs and cyber skills development at MTU.

What will the outputs of this project be?

This project will generate at least 10 brand new high-quality and student-developed cyber-range lab activities that are informed by the needs of students, lecturers, and industry. These labs will be available to computer science and cybersecurity students in MTU and CyberSkills partner universities TUD and UL. A hybrid online/in-person launch event will be held at MTU to promote the work completed on the project and to demonstrate the taxonomy of labs available.

A short tutorial video will be created by the students involved in the creation of the lab templates to show how they can be used. This video will be circulated to all computer science and CyberSkills lecturers and uploaded to internal shared platforms.

A public press release about the project will be created with input from student partners, lecturers, and industry professionals. This will be supported by the CyberSkills Marketing team.

The newly developed labs will be used to train the WorldSkills Ireland cybersecurity team for WorldSkills 2024. This will be acknowledged in all Team Ireland cybersecurity press releases and social media posts.

To disseminate the overall methodology and learnings from this development process, we aim to publish at a teaching and learning or computer science conference.

Team Members:

  • Dr Hazel Murray. CyberSkills and the Department of Computer Science. Bishopstown Cork. Lead. Project management and coordination. Cybersecurity expert.
  • Dr George O’Mahony. CyberSkills and the Department of Computer Science. Bishopstown Cork. Co-Lead.  Cyber-range and cybersecurity expert. George will provide cyber-range training for the student partners. Assistant project management.
  • Dean Brennan. Senior researcher. CyberSkills. Bishopstown Cork. Cybersecurity, cyber-range, and penetration testing expert. Dean is a recent graduate of Munster Technological University. Dean will assist students with development and testing of cyber-range labs.
  • Feedback providers. All students and lecturers in the Computer Science Department and CyberSkills will be engaged in an initial survey. All students will also be encouraged to engage in the testing phase and provide feedback.
  • Student partners. Department of Computer Science. Bishopstown Cork. 12 students will be part of a focus group and core partners in this project. They will decide what labs will be developed based on feedback from students, lecturers and industry professionals. They will develop these labs with assistance from Hazel, George and Dean and relevant domain experts. They will also be involved in testing, validation and promotion of these labs.

The two identified roles for student partners are Lab Developer and Lab Analyst.

Lab Developer: Ten of the student partners take on the development of one lab each taking into account their subject area and expertise. Development could also be a group activity, depending on student preference.

Lab Analyst: Two students will categorise and collate existing cyber-range labs by identifying existing privately owned labs and asking if lecturers are comfortable making them public. The students can also improve these labs if the lecturer would like. For example, fully automating the grading on some existing private labs. Based on this collation, the two students will also develop templates to assist future development of labs.

Let's get social