factors to consider when buying a cyber range

5 Factors to Consider When Buying a Cyber Range

Enhancing your team’s cyber preparedness through various realistic simulated cyber exercises is one of the most effective practices for organizations worldwide. 

Cyber threats evolve constantly. Therefore, the significance of innovative training solutions like Cyber Ranges cannot be overstated. However, there are a couple of factors to keep in mind when it comes to buying a cyber range technology for an organization. 

In this article, we will explore this topic in-depth and provide the 5 main factors to consider when buying a cyber range solution for your team. 

Let’s Start With Definitions: What Is a Cyber Range?

Cyber range refers to a technology offering a simulated environment that organizations can use to train their employees and test incident response capabilities. It includes a simulated network infrastructure, tools, and systems that help companies improve their overall cyber preparedness. 

Typically, organizations worldwide use this technology for the following: 

  • Place for Cyber Warfare Training

A cyber range is a place, both virtual and physical, designed for cyber warfare training. It can be used by organizations to assess preparedness for an attack or as a practice field for people looking to get into the cybersecurity field.

  • Safe Training Environment

This environment allows organizations to practice their skills and simulate attacks on

how to best detect, respond to, and prevent cyber incidents in a safe environment without causing any real-life damage.

  • Used for Testing and R&D Purposes

A cyber range not only provides the means for simulating real-life scenarios but can be used as a tool for security or technology testing and for research and development activities.

While the concept of cyber range seems relatively straightforward, it is a complex system that comprises both technical and organizational elements.

The most common mistake that organizations tend to make when purchasing cyber ranges is that they over-emphasize the role of the physical hardware and computing power, leaving too few resources for cyber range software and for leveraging the infrastructure for the best outcomes, which includes the human training and learning aspect. 

Let’s have a look at the best practices and factors to consider when purchasing a cyber range technology for your organization. 

Understand and Draw up Your Business Requirements

In case you have already concluded that your organization needs to buy a cyber range, the first step that you must take is to establish a clear understanding of what you will use it for.

It is a good idea to take a step back and focus on the intended impact of the upcoming investment. Try to answer the following questions: 

  • What should the ideal outcome look like after using the cyber range for a while?
  • How many people (and who) should be participating in the training that will take place in the cyber range?
  • What should the participants learn and prepare for?
  • How often will the cyber range be used, and what kinds of training events will be hosted?
  • Which technologies will need to be involved?

Having formulated a proper understanding of the desired outcomes, you will be better prepared to send out a structured and itemized request for proposals to potential cyber range partners. 

Also, answering these questions will make it relatively easy to compare different proposals when you have clearly laid out what your requirements are. 

Balance the Features and Capacity Requirements With Realistic Expectations of the Eventual Usage of the Cyber Range

Don’t shoot a fly with a cannon – it is not necessary to waste your entire investment on technical infrastructure when, in reality, all you might need is training content and helping hands to instruct your team. 

Answer the following questions to understand the cyber range features and capacity-related factors to take into consideration: 

  • Are you building a national cyber range capability or an affordable training environment for your internal workforce?
  • What use cases are you planning to have? Is it individual or team-based events, instructor-led training or self-learning? Live fire and/or capture the flag exercises? Testing and experimenting?
  • Will you need the ability to operate the cyber range independently from the cyber range partner and to create your own content?
  • How technically advanced and complex are your content and related scenarios in the context of the technical limitations set by the cyber range?
  • Will you need support for special systems, such as physical and virtual systems of the likes of OT or SCADA, military equipment, and IT or telecommunications?
  • Will you need integration with other external systems, including other cyber ranges (also known as ‘federation’)? 
  • Does cyber range need to be air-gapped from the internet and other networks?

Choose the Delivery, Hosting, and Licensing Model That Fits Your Needs

Once you have defined your business requirements and know all about the features and capacity you will need from your cyber range, the next big question to address is about the actual delivery.

Essentially, the question stands – are you seeking ownership of a physical cyber range, a service-based approach, or a hybrid solution?

Here are some of the typical aspects you should consider in this case:

  • Are you looking to buy a cyber range as a service or as an in-house capability?
  • Technically, should your cyber range be hosted on-premises within your own IT infrastructure, by your partner as a cloud-hosted solution, or as a hybrid solution of both of the options?
  • Will you require training events as a service, or will you be hosting them yourself?
  • What kind of licensing cost model will best serve your purposes: per user, per cyber range, or per event? Will the ability to monetize your cyber range for your own benefit be relevant to you?

Set Your Budget and Expectations From the Process

Now it’s time to align your needs and expectations with your budget – how big of an investment are you considering to make for this project? 

In this step, it is important to keep in mind that the investment you put in the cyber range not only helps to enhance your technical infrastructure but also takes care of your employee training aspects. 

Typically, thinking about the following points will help you evaluate your needs: 

  • There is a wide range of costs associated with getting a cyber range – it is important to know how much your organization is ready to invest in this kind of technology. 
  • There are two types of costs when it comes to operating your cyber range – direct and indirect. Direct cost includes a person from your team that owns and runs the in-house cyber range. Indirect costs involve data center fees and hardware maintenance. 
  • Think about the type of solution you are looking to use – free and open-source software or a commercial one? It is important to acknowledge that free software usually comes with lots of hidden costs. 

Select a Cyber Range Partner That Is Best for You

The final step is to choose the cyber range partner that will assist you meet your needs – there is a variety of vendors and services in the marketplace to choose from. As a buyer, it is crucial that you educate yourself about the topic to make informed decisions. 

The best practices while purchasing a cyber range include: 

  • Before making a final decision, make sure you familiarize yourself with the technology and different offers and vendors are giving. 
  • It is a good idea to study the cyber range provider’s references in terms of projects, events, and support procedures. Have they successfully delivered projects or events similar to yours?
  • Do your homework on the vendor companies too – what kind of organizations are they working with, and what are their backgrounds, capabilities, and experience?
  • Arrange pre-procurement meetings to share information both ways and even map out details in the proposal about the subsequent delivery processes. 

CybExer Technologies – Leading the Way to Cyber Preparedness

While considering purchasing the cyber range technology to enhance the cyber resilience of your team, remember that it is always a good idea to consult a cyber range expert before submitting a request for a proposal to potential vendors. 

This way, you will receive valuable insights, validate your requirements, and optimize your resources for the best possible outcome. 

CybExer Technologies has been a driving force in the cybersecurity landscape since 2016. Committed to enhancing global cybersecurity capabilities, we offer an advanced Cyber Range platform to equip organizations with comprehensive training modules and elevate their cyber preparedness. 

If you’d like to learn more about our offerings, feel free to schedule a call with our cyber range experts to discuss your organization’s needs.