Safer Internet Day is celebrated today, Feb. 11. It’s a day dedicated to teaching everybody, especially young people, how to enhance safety on the internet. “Together for a Better Internet” is the theme of Safer Internet Day, and everybody is getting involved including youth, parents, educators, administrators, government leaders, as well as the tech industry. To get Tech Data’s perspective, I sat down with Brett Scott, Director of Security and Enablement Training and Tech Data’s Cyber Range expert, to discuss internet safety and how our Cyber Range, among the first-ever in IT distribution, is helping in this crucial endeavor.
Q: What is a Cyber Range?
A: Like a shooting or kinetic “range” that facilitates training in operations, tactics and tools needed to prepare for combat, a Cyber Range is a virtual environment designed to immerse students in real-world computer networks for educational training and to test response procedures to known or simulated cyber security threats. It’s a safe simulation environment where cybersecurity students of all ages can learn, advance and grow in this important field, which is hyper focused on protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unauthorized access or attacks.
The Tech Data’s Cyber Range offers a safe simulation environment for educational training, to test response procedures, as well as the latest technology to help avert cybersecurity threats.
Q: Why are cyber ranges critical to Internet Safety?
A: First of all, we have a cybersecurity skills gap in our nation and globally. There are currently 300,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions in the U.S. alone, and that number is estimated to be three million globally*. And the threats just keep coming with the bad guys outspending us at a rate of 10 to one.
Secondly, no one is immune. Cyberthreats come at everybody – individuals, companies of all sizes, nonprofit organizations and government entities. On average, cyberattacks happen every 39 seconds** and they are ever-changing with new threats popping up and current threats morphing.
With today’s sophisticated corporate and individual networks, everything is connected to the internet. The Internet of Things (IoT) is made up of hundreds of millions of devices connected to the internet and the entire ecosystem is only as strong as its weakest link.
Cyber Ranges train people to fight off the threats. They help us to enhance internet safety. If you can simulate the worst possible threats and better understand how these will be deployed, a cybersecurity professional is in a better position to successfully fend them off.
Alex Ryals, Vice President of Security Solutions, Americas, for Tech Data recently hosted Arizona State Sen. Sean Bowie, D-Phoenix, at the Tech Data Cyber Range. He points to his smartphone and explains IoT – the continually expanding number of devices connected to the internet -- and the sense of urgency and importance of enhanced cyber security enabled by the Cyber Range facility.
Q: The Tech Data Cyber Range opened on Nov. 13, 2019. Can you give me an update on how things are going?
A: The Tech Data Cyber Range has a three-pronged mission: train, demonstrate and engage. Over the last three months, we have been averaging about 100 people a day coming through the Cyber Range, which is located at the Tech Data facility in Tempe, Arizona. We are hosting our vendors, resellers, community organizations and government groups and leaders.
Under our training program, we offer curriculum for those new-to-the-field of cyber security, as well as seasoned experts such as network and cyber security engineers. As a technology solutions distributor and aggregator, Tech Data is also able to demonstrate the most advanced cybersecurity technology available on the market through our technology vendor partners. This covers everything from the latest firewall solutions to mobility security solutions. We also engage audiences through our Cyber Range including offering the facility to community partners like the Pima County Community College in Tucson, Ariz., which is using our Cyber Range as part of its higher education curriculum.
Q: How can Tech Data’s Cyber Range help the world enhance internet safety?
A: Internet safety is really at the core of cybersecurity. The Tech Data Cyber Range is here to serve as a consistent and first-rate resource for any and all interested in bettering their cybersecurity skills and applying them to the real-world to help keep our networks and data safe. Through the Cyber Range facility, we are able to serve as a conduit to train skilled professionals and inject them directly into industry for a safer internet.
Q: What are some tips for the general person to stay safer on the internet?
A: Web browsing, online shopping and emailing pose the biggest threats. Take a cue from the corporate world, where we safeguard our computers, networks and data through something called “containerization,” using “Virtual Machines” (VMs) (also known as “Virtual Boxes”). These VMs replicate the IT infrastructure and sit directly out on the internet and protect our “real” systems. VMs act like a box or container and offer an important level of safety, where if an attack or breach were to take place, the VM is the “system” attacked and can be quickly deleted and with that, the attack is also eliminated, never striking the core systems. New VMs can be easily recreated along the way. Personal computers in our homes can benefit from VMs and you can get free open source virtualization software at virtualbox.org. Mobile devices can also benefit from “filtering” technology and Cisco offers its Umbrella consumer edition for free.
To learn more about Tech Data’s Cyber Range and its mission to train, demonstrate and engage our channel partners and local community, please click here.
About the Author
Mardi Larson serves as Tech Data’s External Communications Manager for the Americas. She started out her career in technology in the supercomputing industry at Cray Research and since then has worked for B2B and B2C mature and start-up brands and business across a range of marketing and communications roles. Mardi’s career profile can be found at LinkedIn.
(*) (ISC)2 Research
(**) Statistics cited from Why Managed Security Presents a Golden Opportunity for MSPs White Paper by Channel Futures™ & Tech Data®, Fall 2019.