Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University
Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University

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Video Games as a Training Tool to Prepare the Next Generation of Cyber Warriors

  • Abstract

    There is a global shortage of more than 1 million skilled cybersecurity professionals needed to address current cybersecurity challenges (CISCO, 2014). Criminal organizations, nation-state adversaries, hacktavists, and numerous other threat actors continuously target business, government, and even critical infrastructure networks. Estimated losses from cyber crime and cyber espionage amount to hundreds of billions annually (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2013). The need to build, maintain, and defend computing resources is greater than ever before.

    A novel approach to closing the cybersecurity workforce gap is to develop cutting-edge cybersecurity video games that (1) grab the attention of young adults, (2) build a solid foundation of information security knowledge and skills, (3) inform players of potential career paths, and (4) establish a passion that drives them through higher education and professional growth. Although some video games and other games do exist, no viable options are available that target high-school-age students and young adults that supply both a quality gaming experience and foster the gain of key cybersecurity knowledge and skills. Given the Department of Defense’s success with simulations and gaming technology, its sponsorship of a cybersecurity video game could prove extremely valuable in addressing the current and future needs for our next generation cyber warriors.

    The characteristics of a potential cybersecurity video game are presented in this paper. Several current cybersecurity games were reviewed and key attributes and shortcomings of these games were identified. Additionally, a small sampling of students, trainers, educators, security professionals, and non-security occupations were interviewed and surveyed to identify some of the essential requirements. Feedback from these efforts is included to establish a foundation for additional research and future video game development.

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