Extending Cybersecurity Awareness through a Web-based laboratory

Cybersecurity Awareness Month is coming to an end in Canada. This is an opportunity to introduce another initiative to enhance outreach, research and education for cybersecurity.

It is a well-known fact that there is a shortage of trained cybersecurity professional. Industries and governments are looking for ways to attract students into the field of cybersecurity as well as to develop an interest in the field.

In this regard, creating environments that facilitate active learning on cybersecurity is helpful in maintaining interest, especially with young learners, but also in facilitating better knowledge retention. Technology-based learning environments have showed to provide students the opportunity to develop a sense of control and individual responsibility for their own individual learning.

When it comes to cybersecurity, most products are built to guide users through a scripted scenario or to simulate techniques, thus limiting the ability to explore and experiment.

Michael Black and his colleagues from University of South Alabama developed the Enhanced Virtual Laboratory (EVL), a content-driven web-based environment that delivers centralized cyber security content. The project was funded by the Department of Defense in an effort of outreach, research and education for cyber security in the United States. The EVL provides a modern web-browser independent interface that educators can use to contribute or collaborate on content. EVL also provides an effective hands-on learning by giving the user a real-world experience as they respond exactly as if the operating system was running on dedicated, physical hardware resources.

EVL provides a new and improved method of delivering remotely cyber security content to different users with variable depths of security knowledge. It will be interesting to see the results from future research of the team, which will focus on the student experience and the impact of EVL on their learning of cybersecurity.

Cite: Black, M., Chapman, D., Clark, A. (2018). The Enhanced Virtual Laboratory: Extending Cyber Security Awareness through a Web-based Laboratory . Information Systems Education Journal, 16(6) pp 4-12.