Microsoft Azure Government Secret Helps Enhance Cyber Training

Across the board there’s been a push from a policy perspective to get into secure cloud environments that provide organizations with the on-demand and protected availability that they need to improve business processes. Azure Government Secret is a cloud solution that delivers comprehensive and mission-enabling cloud services to US Federal Civilian, Department of Defense (DoD), Intelligence Community (IC), and US government partners working within Secret enclaves. It can also have global implications for how cyber defenders prepare for tomorrow’s threats.

The April 2019 announcement of Azure Government Secret enables Circadence to deliver Project Ares to similar defense industry partners in support of their cyber training and readiness missions. Having the power of the Azure Secret cloud infrastructure behind Circadence is necessary to deliver infinite cyber range scalability for gamified training and learning opportunities to defenders across the globe who need specialized security and scalability in training programs.

As cyber threats grow more frequent and more malicious, it is mission critical to government cyber protection teams to have the flexibility and accessibility to scale training to their needs, with limitless opportunity for enhanced cyber preparedness. The persistent, gamified training and frontier learning that occurs in Project Ares, coupled with this new level of secure cloud, enhances the protection of the nation’s most critical digital assets and will undoubtedly contribute to our overall national security.

VP of Global Partnerships Keenan Skelly tells us how it helps improve cyber training today.

“Our partnership with Microsoft Azure allows us to build infinitely scalable cyber ranges to do cyber exercises and trainings,” said Skelly.

With the help from Microsoft Azure Government Secret cloud, Circadence can continue to evolve cyber training solutions that help today’s elite, DoD cyber security professionals anticipate, prevent, and react to threats more efficiently and effectively. In doing so, we are proud to contribute to a world-class security culture that proactively protects our most critical assets and our people.

Girl Scout Troop Visits Circadence to Earn Cyber Security Badges

Introducing girls to the world of cyber security and empowering their access to this STEM discipline is incredibly important to Circadence as we advocate for a cyber workforce with diversified thinking and problem-solving perspectives to keep pace with today’s adversaries. In mid-May, Circadence was honored to host 12 Brownies from a local Girl Scout troop at our San Diego office to help them earn their cyber security badges. Some of Circadence’s own family members are involved with the local troop and several co-workers facilitated a series of workshops for the girls to teach aspects of cyber security including cryptography, spamming, and virus detection.

Circadence’s Raeschel Reed, software engineer, taught the group about Cryptography and showed them how to use a Caesar Cypher to encrypt messages. The girls worked in groups of two to encrypt their favorite food and color. Then, they traded messages with each other and worked to decrypt the messages.

The group also learned about spotting fake emails and about using photo filters and editing pictures from Shirley Quach, Software Engineer at Circadence. Girls broke into groups and presented their comparison arguments for which photo was real and which was fake.

Yadhi Marquez-Garcia, DevOps engineer, taught a section about what a digital footprint is and how we should only share positive and not personal information. The girls wrote down all of the websites, games, and online services they interact with in order to learn about their own digital trail and “see” where they have been online. This helped them be much more conscientious and intentional about sites they visit online and the implications of their online activity.

Digital viruses and how they spread was another topic of discussion that included a hands-on activity. Domonique Lopez, office operations manager, led the girls through an exercise where they shook hands with as many people as they could in two minutes and then pulled a card out of a bucket. The girl who pulled the card out was deemed “the virus” and the other girls quickly realized they were likely “infected” because most had touched her either directly or indirectly. Domonique and the girls then discussed ways to limit exposure to viruses while online. The underlying lesson was that viruses can spread quickly if you aren’t careful about what websites you “shake hands” with.

Complementary to that topic, Kate Dionisio, software engineer, applied the concept of viruses to computer networks. She discussed about how malicious viruses are designed to disrupt computer systems and explained how ransomware attacks work. The girls gathered in a group and tried to pass a message from one to another (a game of “telephone”) while 3 disrupters shouted and tried to stop the message. Then they did the same thing but with 6 disrupters! This led into a discussion about how some viruses will overload a server with requests and stop messages from going where they need to go.

 

Finally, the girls formed teams of two to play inCyt, Circadence’s new cyber awareness game designed to help anybody learn basic cyber concepts similar to the ones that the troop had been learning about. Volunteers helped the girls understand how the cyber topics they’d been learning about applied to cyber attacks they were playing with on inCyt.

“When interacting with inCyt the girls were excited to get a chance to play a game. They loved picking their hackables and choosing a name. They got really excited when they were successful at sending a hack and loved the music. When talking with each other and volunteers they did a great job of connecting what they were doing with our discussions about digital trails and clicking suspicious links. I think they walked away more engaged than if we had just given them a lecture on the content,” said Domonique.

Circadence is pleased to host opportunities like this to engage the next generation and improve their cyber awareness.  There is a significant cyber skills gap today and while these young girls won’t be entering the workforce soon, we hoped they learned that cyber security isn’t scary and is a field they could consider someday.   In the meantime, we’re glad that they might be a little safer online.

CBS4 Denver – Gamified Cyber Learning at CU Boulder

Students at the University of Colorado Boulder are harnessing the cyber security skills needed to fill a widening staff shortage– using a video game on Circadence’s Project Ares.

Gamification in Cyber Security

Make cyber learning fun again! Gamification is being applied to cybersecurity training for professional development purposes. Game mechanics can help security professionals improve information security techniques and diversify cyber thinking to better prevent and mitigate cyber threats.
Gamified cyber exercises encourage healthy cyber hygiene behavior and improve security training retention rates. Rewards, badges, and leaderboards encourage progress and keep employees engaged.

What is a Watering Hole?

Cyber criminals are clever and know how to evolve. They’ve proven this once again with their latest cyber-attack strategy, the Watering Hole Attack, which leverages cloud services to help gain access to even the most secure and sophisticated enterprises and government agencies.

Recognizing a watering hole attack and how it works is valuable in managing risk, as it poses a significant threat to network security.