Cloud Clash 2020 Wrap-Up

Cloud computing adoption has become mandatory in nearly all technical discussions. Whether it’s determining the best greenfield infrastructure or analyzing the cost of migrating legacy systems, technologies and services like AWS, Azure, Kubernetes, Docker, and a variety of others are now primary considerations. While the rapid adoption of these technologies over the last several years is no longer a huge surprise, the amassed security debt will likely be.

The reasons for secured debt in new technologies are often hard to measure before a breach but readily apparent thereafter. Implementation efforts for newer technologies are often understaffed, lack widespread expertise, and prioritize functionality over security. Broadly, Gartner predicts that through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault, primarily due to implementation issues. Closer to home, in 2019, Security Innovation’s consulting team identified nearly 40% of their findings in cloud security misconfigurations and errors - a staggering number given the breadth of systems we encounter.

Realizing this sizable security knowledge gap motivated our team to create Forescient, the first cloud-focused Cyber Range. Forescient provides an AWS environment where learners can explore and educate themselves on various cloud-specific attacks. The attacks are mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK framework, further providing an opportunity to explore each issue to greater depths outside the walls of Forescient.

Launching this cloud-focused Cyber Range also afforded our team a chance to evaluate our delivery methods. We realize our web and mobile-based Cyber Ranges provide simulated environments that often need some level of proctored guidance. Our aim with Forescient is to provide a chatbot-driven storyline that encourages self-driven learning and helps us scale the platform to a larger number of cloud security learners.

With these lofty goals in mind - and an initial rollout of Forescient in October 2020 - we decided to host Cloud Clash 2020, an event to test Forescient’s stand-alone value with a select group of skilled members in our Cyber Ranger Community. Many of these members have substantial cybersecurity knowledge but limited cloud-specific experience, similar to security teams in many organizations working with cloud technologies today.

After a full day of un-proctored exploration in Forescient, several trends clearly emerged:

  • The Power of Chatbots
    Without a proctor, the primary driver for education in Forescient is a mysterious hacker collective driven by chatbots. The chatbots provide missions with increasingly helpful hints to guide learners. These chatbots were a hit with over 90% of players who see them as an outstanding addition to our Cyber Range offerings, particularly in self-paced learning.
  • Thirst for Cross-Functional Education
    Regardless of their role, nearly every technologist has some level of interest in cloud environments, but many find education on subject matter difficult. Not a single participant in Cloud Clash has a primary job function specifically cloud-related, while 36% were Software Developers, 27% were Cyber Defense focused, and the remainder were people leaders or trainers. This mirrors the need we see in the industry - cross-functional education of skilled team members shifting to a new environment.
  • Engagement is Essential
    A core component of any self-driven learning environment is participant engagement. If the material or delivery doesn’t captivate players, the educational value quickly approaches zero. With 91% of players reporting they would recommend Forescient to colleagues, 82% reporting their interest was held to a high degree, and 73% ranking Forescient as “A lot of fun!”, our team is confident we met the high bar for engagement required for Cyber Range environments. These stats become even more impressive when noting that 64% of participants reported Forescient as “Very challenging,” meaning Forescient tests participants while also providing an engaging learning experience!
  • Embrace Incremental Improvements
    Technology is continually in flux, as is how people learn. That understanding embodies  every discussion we have and direction we set at Security Innovation. As such, we intentionally leave room for incremental improvements in our environments. It’s how the initial version of our Shadow Bank Cyber Range grew into an entire suite. This precept allows our foray into the cloud space with Forescient to grow rapidly. By adding more challenges and environments, tuning the chatbots, and expanding storylines, Forescient will continually provide an outstanding initial learning experience with significant room to grow.

Regardless of your role in the technology world, you’re likely encountering cloud technologies in various ways. The team members who build these environments will  likely be the ones to secure them, regardless of their background.

Take the first steps in establishing their cloud security training with Forescient. Get in touch today.

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