ASU Selects Partner for Hands-On Cybersecurity Simulation Workforce Training Accelerator

Cloud Range announced that Arizona State University (ASU) and AZNext have selected its immersive cyber range and cybersecurity simulation training solution to be incorporated into the workforce development accelerator partnership. Led by ASU, AZNext is funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration to address the acute need for mid- to high-skilled professionals in information technology (IT), cybersecurity, and advanced manufacturing within Arizona and across the nation. Cloud Range was chosen because it helps close the skills gap with an innovative, full-service simulation training platform that gives students and cyber professionals realistic experience in all areas of cybersecurity, including threat hunting and security operations activities.

“Our mission is to make simulation training a standard part of cybersecurity training, employment, and career progression, so Cloud Range is excited to team up with ASU and AZNext and help develop and nurture the talent that companies need,” said Cloud Range CEO Debbie Gordon. “Cloud Range’s solutions for higher education allow participants to actually do all of the things that they learn about, in real-time, which drastically improves learning retention, competency, and soft skills like communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. Further, it solves the employment conundrum of needing experience to get a job. Using Cloud Range’s simulation allows learners to gain experience in an accelerated way, preparing them for jumping right into a job. It’s a perfect way to begin an exciting career in cybersecurity.”

Cloud Range’s fully customizable cyber range platform is a safe environment that mimics an entire enterprise network, which is hit with real cyberattacks that Cloud Range develops. Participants experience hands-on practice detecting and responding to all aspects of the real-world incidents. The replicated network also enables participants to use the same industry-leading security tools that are used every day in security operations centers (SOCs). Each attack scenario in Cloud Range’s library uses multiple threat intelligence sources that map to the MITRE ATT&CK framework. Scenarios also map knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to the Workforce Framework for Cybersecurity (NICE) framework.

The hyper-realistic simulation experience is similar to how pilots train using a flight simulator. Without this type of training, cyber professionals simply are not prepared to defend against modern cyber warfare.

“Historically, academia and industry have both struggled to produce full-spectrum cybersecurity professionals: those who go beyond memorizing a common body of cyber knowledge and can demonstrate real-world problem-solving skills, collaboration and communication skills, and greater business acumen. AZNext and Cloud Range are addressing these missing ingredients in both their classrooms and via their immersive labs. This innovative approach serves to shrink the cybersecurity talent gap, not only in terms of total candidates, but also in terms of quality and live-fire experience,” said Rich Mason, strategic advisor, ASU Cybersecurity Hands-On Problem Solving (CHOPS) program and former chief security officer of Honeywell.

“We chose Cloud Range for AZNext because in our mind they provide the most realistic experience for future cyber professionals,” said Kim Jones, the director of ASU’s Cybersecurity Education Consortium and a professor of practice at the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. “Their tools and their talent enabled us to take this program to the next level in terms of quality and content.”

Arizona State University’s AZNext Workforce Development Program is creating courses to upskill current workers and train new, diverse talent in IT, cybersecurity, and advanced manufacturing industries. AZNext is working with over 60 industry partners to identify skills needed in the workforce, determine how to best deliver those skills, recruit participants, and ultimately, get the participants jobs within their chosen fields. Because AZNext is grant-funded, all programs are offered at no cost to the participant.

“The goal of AZNext is to make these high-tech skills available to anyone looking to gain them, whether they are just coming into the workforce or if they want to reskill or upskill from a different type of a role,” said AZNext Program Director Rob Buelow. “One major component of AZNext is a focus on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are specifically targeting underrepresented communities, including minorities, women, veterans, and their families. Incorporating Cloud Range’s cyber range and simulation training also helps level the playing field for underrepresented communities when they begin their job search. They will have a head start with the simulation-based experience they gained from Cloud Range.”

AZNext is a part of ASU’s workforce training and development programs available under the Learning Enterprise. The Learning Enterprise, in collaboration with ASU’s schools and colleges, leads and facilitates the development of scalable, technology-enabled offerings that serve non-degree learners throughout their lifetimes, from pre-K to postretirement. CareerCatalyst represents the professional and technical career skills focus area within ASU’s Learning Enterprise. In collaboration with the Learning Enterprise and CareerCatalyst teams, AZNext focuses on serving populations that may face employment barriers and need flexible options to up-skill and re-skill. That includes nontraditional students, adult learners, and those who face hardship in acquiring post-secondary education.

Businesses appreciate a more skilled, diverse workforce that can hit the ground running and provide value from day one. AZNext is delivering that, currently offering 10 different programs with more on the way. Cloud Range is part of its cybersecurity program, CHOPS, which is open to anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent. Students have 2+ hours of online instruction and homework per week, plus a three-hour in-person workshop each weekend. Cloud Range provides hands-on content for three weeks of the eight-week course. CHOPS is a top program of AZNext and will be starting again in January 2023.

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