Classroom Activity: Disassemble and Reassemble a PC
January 30, 2019

Cybersecurity careers often require a high level of education. Generally a bachelor’s degree will be enough, though supervisory and management paths may require a master’s. Just like most fields, there are exceptions to this rule. Enough experience can qualify an individual for these positions, though obtaining enough real-world experience to gain an expertise in the field takes years.

Degree paths themselves aren’t necessarily designed to establish a foundational learning base for the field, some prior knowledge and experience is encouraged and oftentimes necessary to achieve success. In the past, this experience has come from personal computing projects. But the internet is now a virtual library of cybersecurity resources, especially if you know where to look and how to access content that may fall into a legal grey area.

Basically, we’re talking about hacking. Prior knowledge of this skillset is invaluable when pursuing a degree path related to cybersecurity, and can even lead to a lucrative and legal career. There’s the old adage, “It takes a thief to catch a thief.” While we’re not calling all hackers thieves or criminals, some are and someone with hacking skills may be in a unique position to combat them.

The problem: gaining experience in hacking and performing other exercises in cybersecurity aren’t always strictly legal. Like we’ve said earlier, jobs and even colleges are requiring previous cybersecurity experience, but students have no way to safely and legally get that experience.

The solution: the NICERC Cyber Range – a safe, virtual environment with an extensive library of curricula and hands-on exercises, allowing high school students the chance to get safe and legal hacking and cybersecurity experience.

Just like the rest of NICERC’s curricula, the Cyber Range offers modular course materials complete with syllabi, lesson plans, presentation decks, homework assignments, and exams. Students and teachers can access the range through web browsers, no special software or hardware is required. Through the Cyber Range, students can practice what they’ve learned through immersive, hands-on laboratory exercises

The NICERC Cyber Range can generate over a dozen different learning environments to accommodate a variety of instructional settings, from introductory to intermediate cybersecurity exercises.

Two of the most popular installations are:

  1. A Kali Linux virtual machine that is in a subnet with three other discoverable systems. The environment can be used for network scans, web application vulnerability exploitation, basic penetration testing, as well as a variety of exercises that can be completed using a standalone Kali Linux system.
  2. A single Windows Server 2016 virtual machine with a Windows 10 user interface. This virtual machine has access to the Internet via a proxy that will allow standard web connections (HTTP and HTTPS) for the purpose of web browsing and downloading software for local installation.

The NICERC Cyber Range will be available the Summer of 2019, teachers interested in incorporating it into their lesson plans can learn more at https://nicerc.org/pd/cyber-range/.