Without practice or cybersecurity simulation training, how are organizations — all the way up to the C-suite — able to deal with the magnitude of a massive breach? Picture it: Firefighters don’t show up at a blaze without first training under a multitude of scenarios: collapsing houses, multilevel office buildings, construction sites, burning oil tankers, etc. Likewise, pilots and flight crews train and prepare for engine failures, unexpected loss of cabin pressure, cockpit fires, weather anomalies and running out of fuel. They train as individuals, they train together, and they prepare and develop endurance for myriad situations they could potentially face.
However, when it comes to cybersecurity, this type of training is far from the norm. Companies that come under attack should have made adequate preparations, but I regularly experience the opposite. Occasionally, organizations have a security scenario, so at least IT and security staff have some idea of where to start. But many of these professionals have never received real-life training, and without that practice and the ability to take fast and decisive action during an attack, security teams, executives and others in the organization often show up unprepared.
As you can imagine, not training is an ineffective approach. The main question you should be asking is this: Have we been truly tested as a team?
Why Training Is Crucial to Successful Incident Response
Since the successful 2016 launch of our X-Force Command Cyber Range in Cambridge, Massachusetts, something amazing has unfolded: The demand for immersive cybersecurity simulation training is at an all-time high. The IBM Security facility has played host to more than 2,000 people since it opened, and there are no signs of letting up. But it’s no surprise to see the growing popularity of such a facility, and the opportune experience for teams and executives, because they see what we see: Making it through a breach with relative success doesn’t just happen — it needs to be planned and practiced.
The past two years have shown that all parts of an organization need to train like an elite team, each preparing for its role in a breach. Cyber Range participants have learned that time is not on their side, and that fast, measured action is typically the only way to reduce the impact of an attack. People who’ve been to the Cyber Range have remarked that it was more educational and enlightening than they’d expected. Furthermore, they’ve reported not having realized how many moving parts there are in a cyberbreach, and how truly unprepared they were before they arrived in our facility.
With this growing demand and word spreading, we began to hear from organizations around the globe. But the prospect of sending teams to different countries seemed overwhelming due to the time needed for travel, plus the costs of travel and accommodations. We knew we wanted to provide the Cyber Range experience to a broader audience, but choosing a location was not a straightforward task; with so many countries and so many airport hubs, the possibilities were endless. Thankfully, an outstanding suggestion was made: build a mobile cyber range.
An Immersive Cybersecurity Simuation Experience on Wheels
The IBM X-Force Command Cyber Tactical Operations Center (C-TOC) is a state-of-the-art cyber range on wheels. Recently unveiled at our fourth annual IBM Security Summit in New York City on Oct. 15, the C-TOC will go on a short tour to select U.S. cities before heading to Europe in early 2019.
The C-TOC is modeled after mobile command centers, delivering an entire corporate IT environment for immersive breach response training exercises. It can also be configured as a sterile environment for cyber investigations or as an on-site cyber watch floor for special security events.
With this mobile cybersecurity simulation training facility, we will be able to bring the tools and experience of the Cyber Range to a larger, global audience, helping organizations develop the mastery and skills needed for cyberattack preparedness. This is another major stage in our mission to improve incident response (IR) efforts for organizations around the world.