Secure Decisions has developed a diverse portfolio of interactive cybersecurity education technologies designed to engage learners at all levels.

The need for skilled cybersecurity professionals continues to rapidly grow, both in the commercial sector and in government. Preparing the next generation of the cyber workforce—those who understand the tools, techniques, and processes of protecting information and digital systems—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 the fundamentals of safe computing, a concept critical for our modern digital lives. Learning about cybersecurity is more than just knowing what could happen; we need to learn new attitudes and behaviors to protect our information and digital identities.

Comic-BEE: (Comic Based Education and Evaluation for Cyber Security)

Comic-BEE application

A tool for creating interactive curriculum for cyber security

Comic-BEE is a web-based technology designed to facilitate the rapid creation of branching web comics (like “choose-your-own-adventure” stories) that can be used as curricular materials. In these comics, readers step into the shoes of a character and make decisions about cyber security on behalf of that character. These choices change the direction of the storyline and allow the reader to readily see positive and negative consequences of their choices. Comics can address basics such as computer hygiene, soft skills such as effective communication of risks, or technical topics and strategy, such as how to use command-line Nmap.

Although initially developed to support cyber security education, Comic-BEE can support curriculum development in any domain. This new educational technology simplifies and accelerates the creation of effective cyber security education materials that can be used with any age group, or expertise level. Comic-BEE provides an integrated, guided process for educators and subject matter experts to plan a lesson, write a branching script that is closely aligned with their instructional goals, storyboard the visual layout of their comic, and format the comic with final artwork prior to online delivery and presentation.  Authors can create these branching web comics without needing a programmer or artist; Comic-BEE provides everything needed to create the web comics. Comic-BEE also provides a scoring option for automatically scoring a reader’s path through a story, enabling the comics to be used for a wide variety of assessments, including cyber competitions that are easy to deploy and score.

Comic-BEE was developed with support from Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Cybersecurity Division under Contract No. HSHQDC-14-C-B0019 and HHSP233201600057C, and is based on initial work supported by U.S. Air Force under SBIR Contract No. FA8650-08-C-6858.

See more about Comic-BEE
Comic-BEE information card
See sample comics


The 2020 CyberMiSTS workshop will be a virtual event in July

Middle school educators at schools anywhere in the US are encouraged to apply!


The Curriculum to Broaden Participation in Cybersecurity for Middle School Teachers and Students (CyberMiSTS) project builds on BIGSCE, our prior NSF-funded research into cybersecurity education.  In CyberMiSTS, we are developing and disseminating a curriculum and resources for giving middle schools educators the knowledge, skills, and tools the need to teach cybersecurity.

During the CyberMiSTS workshop, educators  will gain insights from cybersecurity researchers and educators, and learn to use a variety of interactive instructional approaches for teaching cybersecurity, including Comic-BEE, Secure Decisions’ web application for creating branching web comics aligned with a lesson plan. With basic curriculum, resources, and guidance from the CyberMiSTS team, each educator will create a customized lesson plan for cybersecurity and course materials targeted at their own students.

Educators are expected to use their lesson plan and course materials in their own classrooms to teach their students about cybersecurity, and share aggregate and anonymized classroom data with the CyberMiSTS team.

CyberMiSTS has the following research aims:

  1. Integrate recent research-based understanding of cybersecurity into a curriculum that is accessible to teachers and their middle school students.
  2. Encourage participation of a broad and diverse set of students in the field of cybersecurity by showing them how human relations play an important role in cybersecurity.
  3. Identify what educators need to successfully teach cybersecurity in a middle school classroom and, based on this, develop guidelines and resources for disseminating this teacher instruction widely.

CyberMiSTS is funded by an award from the National Science Foundation, under the Secure & Trustworthy Cyberspace: Education (SaTC: EDU) Program, Award Abstract #1821757.

Secure Decisions partnered with a team from Stony Brook University led by Dr. Lori Scarlatos, Associate Professor of Educational Technology, Department of Technology & Society, College of Engineering & Applied Sciences.

Watch the Video

Branching Interactive Graphic Stories for Cyber Security Education (BIGSCE)

The Branching Interactive Graphic Stories for Cybersecurity Education (BIGSCE) project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), enabled us to evaluate how to use branching, interactive web comics to teach middle school students about cyber security. Branching stories provide opportunities to explore cause and effect, and middle school students found the comic book style highly engaging. The project leveraged Comic-BEE, Secure Decision’s cyber security education technology based on research sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, Cyber Security Division (DHS S&T/CSD).

BIGSCE informed the development of new approaches to teaching and learning cyber security: branching graphic stories can incorporate culturally relevant pedagogy, and therefore have the potential to reach a broader and more diverse body of students. The goal of BIGSCE was to explore how this innovative technology can enhance cyber security education, with the following aims:

  1. Attract a broad and diverse workforce to the field of cyber security, starting in middle school.
  2. Use expert-created comics to evaluate a learner’s knowledge, skill, and ability in the area of cyber security.
  3. Deepen students’ understanding of cyber security challenges and consequences using a comic creation activity. BIGSCE will also contribute new understanding of how to effectively use branching, graphic stories as a learning and assessment tool for middle school students.

Secure Decisions partnered with Stony Brook University, led by Dr. Lori Scarlatos, Associate Professor, Department of Technology & Society. The free workshops were held at the Town of North Hempstead’s “Yes We Can Community Center” in New Cassel, New York.

The BIGSCE workshops covered topic such as:

  • Privacy and keeping safe on the Internet
  • The nature of cyber crimes
  • Cyber security professionals, and how they solve those crimes
  • Heroes in cyber security and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)
  • Fact and fiction in television and movies about cyber security
  • How to prepare for a career in cyber security

See the video with some of our workshop participants!

“Branching Interactive Graphic Stories for Cybersecurity Education” (BIGSCE) was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Award Number 1623131.

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 number: FA8650-08-C6858.

SIMBlend Fact sheet
Read Blending Bloom’s Taxonomy and Serious Game Design

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.