Transition Year Students Gain Valuable Cybersecurity Skills Through Immersive Simulated Cyber-Attack Scenario

04 Jul, 2023

Min read

group of students working together

In an effort to equip young individuals with crucial cybersecurity knowledge and combat cybercrime, CyberSkills and CyberFutures have organized a series of innovative Scenario Exercise events for Transition Year students. Held at the Nimbus Research Centre, Munster Technological University (MTU) in Cork, these events provided students with a hands-on experience of a simulated cyber-attack scenario. 

The tabletop exercise conducted by CyberSkills aimed to educate participants about the significance of cybersecurity and deepen their understanding of its importance. The students were immersed in a fictional company setting, where they assumed roles within a company facing a cyber-attack. 

The exercise revolved around a fictitious pharmaceutical company named PharmaFutures, which manufactured both paracetamol and type two diabetes medications. Divided into five departments—Human Resources, Public Relations and Marketing, Legal, IT, and Finance and Operations—the students assumed roles within these departments and were tasked with making critical decisions and providing assistance during the cyber-attack simulation. 

To set the stage, the lecturer, posing as the head of cybersecurity, conducted a live demonstration illustrating the visual cues of a cyber-attack on computer screens. Flashing red lights alerted the IT department to further investigate the detected breach within the system. This initial step prompted the departments to outline their department's priorities before the cyber-attack occurred, followed by their requests for assistance from other departments once the attack was underway. 

Throughout the exercise, the students experienced lively interruptions designed to create a sense of urgency and keep them on their toes. Staged interruptions included simulated pharmacy calls inquiring about the arrival of paracetamol supplies, which prompted the students to collaborate and make decisions. Additionally, the receptionist contacted the Public Relations department, demanding responses to numerous press inquiries. 

The Transition Year students warmly embraced the simulated scenario experience, which led to engaging debates and insightful discussions on various cybersecurity topics. The exercise effectively introduced key cybersecurity concepts and left the students with valuable takeaways. The interactive and dynamic nature of the activity received positive feedback from the students, who appreciated the opportunity to learn about cybersecurity in a fun and engaging manner, departing from the traditional lecture-style format. 

For schools interested in organizing the CyberSkills cyber-attack scenario event, please contact us at info@cyberfutures.ie or info@cyberskills.ie. 

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