Cyber Security Education

The need for skilled computer network defenders is rapidly growing, both in the commercial sector and in government. Training the next generation of computer network defenders who understand the tools, techniques and processes of Information Security and Information Assurance (IA) is a challenge being addressed in many different ways. And as evidenced by continued headlines of breaches resulting from user actions like clicking on email links, new methods and approaches are needed to teach everyone safe computing, a concept critical for our modern digital lives. Learning safe computing is more than just knowing what could happen; we need to learn new attitudes and behaviors to practice safe computing.

Secure Decisions is developing a diverse portfolio of interactive cyber security education materials designed to engage the learner at all levels.


CyberWISE: (Web-based Interactive Stories for [Cyber] Education).
A tool for creating interactive safe computing curriculum.

CyberWISE is a web-based technology designed to assist cybersecurity educators and subject matter experts, who are neither programmers nor artists, to develop web-based branching, graphic stories ( “choose-your-own-adventure” stories) that are closely aligned with instructional goals. Readers will follow a character’s decisions about risky computing activities and make choices for the character that can change the direction of the storyline and ultimately affect the character’s exposure to security and privacy risks. CyberWISE provides an integrated, guided process for educators and subject matter experts to plan a lesson, write the script of their branching story, storyboard the visual layout of their comic, and format the comic with final artwork prior to online delivery and presentation. This new educational technology will simplify and accelerate the creation of effective cyber security education materials that raise the general population’s awareness of cyber threats and the means to guard against them.

CyberWISE is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate under Contract# HSHQDC-14-B0019. Please review our datasheet to learn more about CyberWISE.

SimBLEND: A Simulation-Based Learning Environment for Network Defense

The result of a research program funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory Human Effectiveness Directorate, Warfighter Readiness Research Division (AFRL/HEA) to develop new and exciting concepts for training the next generation of cyber warriors, SimBLEND facilitates  blending the delivery of computer based training (CBT) materials with interactive visualizations and serious games to create a web-based environment where learning is fun and skills can be practiced immediately. To demonstrate SimBLEND, we created browser-based, CND-themed casual games that focused on low-level cyber security concepts and tools. These games are simple to use and can be delivered as stand-alone games or integrated into a Learning Management System or other training environment.

SimBLEND was sponsored by Air Force Research Laboratory Contract No. FA8650-08-C6858. Please review the SimBLEND Datasheet to learn more about SimBLEND. Learn more about our approach to developing these CND training games in our paper, “Blending Bloom’s Taxonomy and Serious Game Design,” presented at the Security and Management Conference 2011.


Safe Computing and Awareness Education

Cyber crimes and network attacks exploit weak links. Attacks on critical infrastructure, identity theft, and internet predators exploit unsafe practices across the population. Home users, office workers and students must be educated on safe computing and best practices for protecting the computing systems and, by extension, themselves, their family and co-workers. To address this need, we have developed a novel approach to provide safe computing education to all levels of the population. Based on “choose-your-own-adventure” stories, the curriculum presents various safe computing topics, such as email, safe web-browsing and mobile devices, in a web-based comic format, with supplemental text-based information. Learners read the story and simultaneously play the role of a character, making decisions for the character that can affect his/her safe computing (e.g. for a story about email safety, the learner can choose between “click on the website link embedded in the email” or “go to the website from a browser bookmark”) and change the direction of the storyline. The results are often disastrous in an outrageous, comic manner, keeping the learner engaged while showing both positive and negative consequences of the choices.


ShortCut for serious game development

Creating interactive visualizations and educational games for skill acquisition is hard, requiring subject matter expertise and interactive design skills. Instructional goals and specific subject matter details must be integrated with other information to develop interactive scenarios. To provide a more efficient turnaround of training games or visualizations, we are developing ShortCut, a web-based collaborative framework for rapid development of serious games. ShortCut’s goal is to facilitate knowledge exchange between subject matter experts and game designers, thereby streamlining the creation of serious games.  Using an interactive, web-based knowledge elicitation, ShortCut allows the instructor or subject matter expert to describe in detail the subject matter, and it also captures additional information needed by interaction and game designers, such as learning objectives and descriptions of real-world situations using the skill or knowledge.

For more information about any of our cyber security education projects, please contact Secure Decisions at 631-759-3988, or reach us through our contact page.