Boise State joins North America Cyber Range Alliance (NACRA) to increase the strength of U.S. cyber defenses

Posted at 1:24 AM, Oct 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 03:24:10-04

BOISE — Boise State joins the North America Cyber Range Alliance (NACRA) with a mission to increase the strength of the U.S. cyber defenses.

“It’s to really engage the next generation of cyber warriors in getting hands-on experience in getting into the head of the adversary, and being able to respond accordingly to defend the assets of our nation,” said Arizona Cyber Threat Response Alliance (ACTRA) President and CEO, Frank Grimmelmann.

ACTRA created the initiative NACRA to partner with colleges and universities to give cybersecurity students practice at defending against real-world cyberattacks.

Boise State is the first out of state institution to join the Arizona-based Alliance.

NACRA will send actual cyberattacks they've experience to BSU cybersecurity students for them to practice against in a simulated environment.

“Those will range from advanced persistent threats that may be coming from criminal organizations looking to break into organizations and steal data all the way to actions taken by nations against our voting systems, against our health system and other critical infrastructure,” said director for Boise State’s Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity, Edward Vasko.

Cyberattacks are not a new challenge our world is facing.

“But, what has become more and more prevalent are the frequencies and the types of attacks," said Vasko. "And the frequency and the types of attacks are calling for more and more cyberwarriors and cyber-enabled workforce employees.”

The problem is, the demand for cybersecurity employees is high, but the supply of qualified individuals is low.

“Certain numbers in Idaho indicate an employment gap of about 1,300 positions where we don’t have students, or we don’t have professionals activated to support that need," said Vasko. "Outside of Idaho, the number is significantly higher across the U.S. numbers range from 500,000 to 750,000 active openings where we do not have professionals to fill those roles.”

By joining this Alliance, BSU hopes to add more cyberwarriors into the workforce to keep our businesses, our people, and our nation safe.

“I used to run one of the biggest cybersecurity businesses in Arizona, and a problem we face is when we bring in new students typically to get those students enabled and aware of recent threats and new technologies and new ways of doing things it can take employers up to six months' worth of time to actually take a new employee from their start date to when they are actually providing value to that employer,” said Vasko.

Through this Alliance and its real-world simulations, it provides BSU's goal is to reduce that time and have their students ready to go the first day they're hired.

They also want to make sure they teach the next generation of cyberwarriors ethical standards of the industry.

"Cyber is a very very powerful weapon, and if people are utilizing it and don’t have that ethical foundation, we could essentially developing the next generation of cyber adversaries as opposed to cyberwarriors defending our own country and the assets of our organizations,” said Grimmelmann.

To learn more about NACRA, click here.