Northport, NY—April 3, 2017—Secure Decisions, a division of Applied Visions, Inc. and an industry leader in cyber security awareness, has been sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, Cyber Security Division to continue development of Comic-BEE, an interactive cyber security education tool. Comic-BEE will provide educators and managers with an all-in-one solution to plan and create complex, branching narratives to impart specific, meaningful lessons about cyber security.

According to, in November 2016 there were nearly 350,000 open cyber security positions across the USA. “We can’t wait for students to graduate college in 4 to 8 years; we need to find a way to retool our current workforce. We need to provide educators tools to rapidly create curricular materials that can be used for both learning and assessment in diverse environments, and which can be customized for different audiences,” says Laurin Buchanan, Principal Investigator for Comic-BEE.

Comic-BEE aims to help close this education and assessment gap by providing educators and employers a powerful tool to rapidly develop meaningful, targeted lessons that address specific topics in an interactive way. Comic-BEE is a web-based application that integrates the creation of lesson plans for specific instructional goals with the process of creating a choose your own adventure comic — a graphic, branching story where readers make choices on behalf of a character and the story changes based on the choices made. “Stories can be used to explore a wide range of cyber security aspects, such as ethics, privacy, strategy, and the law,” Ms. Buchanan stated. “They also can provide a way for people to gain an understanding of a whole process — say, incident response — or understanding the strategy involved in cyber security decision making, such as understanding the consequences of specific risk management and security design considerations, or when and how to use a scanning tool in stealth mode as part of a penetration testing scenario.”

Comic-BEE requires no programming knowledge or input from graphic artists. The application scaffolds educators through the process of creating a complex, branching storyline that demonstrates a clear cause-and-effect relationship between cyber events and choices, and their real-life consequences. By specifying both the relative quality and expertise of each choice in the story and associating those choices with the learning objectives from their lesson plan, educators and employers can ensure the story addresses the intended instructional goals.

As part of the current effort, Secure Decisions will add a scoring capability that enables the comics to assess learning and skills. Scored comics can support hands-on evaluation of knowledge for a wide range of cyber security topics, and are suitable for use with student learners and the workforce. They can also be used as a game or competition, allowing learners to practice and demonstrate skills in a safe environment, without requiring infrastructure on either end of the connection.

Secure Decisions also plans to integrate the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workforce Framework into the Comic-BEE lesson planning workflow, making it easy to create scored comics aligned with specific tasks or KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) associated with individual cyber security workforce roles. “Comic-BEE represents a unique education technology, particularly for cyber security,” notes Ms. Buchanan. “We are not aware of another integrated tool for developing interactive curricular materials for both learning and evaluation that supports such close alignment of learning objectives to the user interaction.”

The current effort includes multiple pilots to demonstrate how the comics could be used in various environments. Secure Decisions is seeking partners to author and pilot cyber security educational comics as part of K-12 classroom curriculum, as well as educators and employers interested in creating and using scored comics on cyber security topics.

This material is based on research sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, Cyber Security Division (DHS S&T/CSD) via contract numbers HSHQDC-14-C-B0019 and HHSP233201600057C. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Government.

About Secure Decisions:

Secure Decisions was created as a division of Applied Visions, Inc. to conduct R&D and develop innovative technologies in cyber security including network defense, infrastructure protection, application security, intelligence analysis, and data visualization. Secure Decisions develops tools for decision-makers to analyze large amounts of complex data, and to provide cutting-edge security measures to protect their proprietary information. Many of their products were developed under contract from federal and state governments or governmental agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and DARPA. In 2015, Secure Decisions’ application security R&D led to the development of a new application vulnerability correlation and management system, which is now commercially available through a spin-out company called Code Dx, Inc.

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