Cyber Security Research and Education System (CRES)

Our project’s goal is to improve students’ understanding of cyber security. The CRES project is designed to provide a safe, realistic environment for students to enact different scenarios and perform various techniques relating to the cyber security field. CRES architecture will allow for a neutral “middle” team to manage and score the activities of two opposing teams. Both opposing teams will have to defend against the attacks of the other team as well as trying to impair the other team from successfully completing their assigned tasks. The framework also provides for the neutral team to monitor and attack the opposing teams but not be attacked. Disaster, emergency, and crisis; these are all words that are used to describe the current cyber-security situation prevalent in the US and this is alarming. It is critical to address that cyber-security is not getting enough emphasis in computer science curriculums, leaving graduating students unprepared when they enter the workplace. Similarly, many IT professionals currently in the workplace learn on the fly, creating a catch-up scenario that can leave their systems vulnerable.

The Marshall University Cyber-security Research and Education System (MU CRES) framework is designed to remedy these issues. MU CRES introduces a new, versatile way of learning about and performing research in cyber-security techniques that facilitates training for various scenarios and user levels. MU CRES was initially tested as an education system earlier this year. A series of labs was created using the system to educate participants about different aspects of cyber-security, which were used during a controlled team-based hacking event. The participants had to use the cyber-security techniques they learned in the labs to defend their servers from malicious attacks during this event, as well as perform counter-attacks.

The first live hacking event was a success which led to a great wealth of user input for future versions of the framework. There are a few issues that were discovered during the event. One of the main issues is that the network cannot handle the load from the attacks being performed by people participating in the event. Future iterations of MU CRES will include miniature versions of the live hacking event. MU CRES is an effective way of introducing cyber-security techniques to current computer science students as well as providing an easy to use research framework for IT professionals.

The first version of CRES was successfully used in the Cyber War event in CS 340: Cyber Security course.
Checkout the video of the event: