Beta Port, loosely modeled on the city of Portland, is a cyber security exercise environment. With the guidance of MCSC’s Scientific Systems Administrator, Edward Sihler, students architected the Beta Port infrastructure. This involved devising a group of fictional businesses to inhabit Beta Port and grow them into a collection of virtual machines and virtual networks. Students implemented a variety of technologies to actualize Beta Port and continue to maintain it acting as the virtual city’s Systems Administrators, Network Administrators, Web Developers, Database Administrators, and more.
The Collaboratory Project
The University of Southern Maine, University of Maine at Fort Kent, and York County Community College are directing a Virtual Cybersecurity Collaborative Learning Laboratory project. The Collaboratory is an educational environment that allows students to gain practical experience in preventing and mitigating cyber attacks in real time. During simulations, students are assigned roles as IT professionals at companies in the fictional city of Beta Port, a virtual environment built and maintained by students for these security exercises. Students are then challenged by a variety of cyber security issues, working together to detect and stop security breaches and restore systems.
This project is funded by the CyberCorps National Science Foundation Award, number 1438826.
“I would say perhaps the most interesting aspect of the simulations has been the degree to which this project has extended the understanding of the value of collaboration in a virtual laboratory setting to discover and address cyber security threats. The "co-laboratory" concept has demonstrated itself to be a valuable approach to cyber security education that capitalizes on what heretofore was considered by most to be a significant impediment - namely, a highly geographically distributed student body.”
“In a community college, many of the students only have a vague idea on what area of computing they want to pursue. This project allowed a number of students to explore the idea of what it is like to work in Information Security in a life-like environment. Each semester, some in the group now have a better idea of what they want to do, and often it is information security.”
“The Beta Port Project requires us to respond in real time to unpredictable events. That type of experience can’t be simulated in the classroom.”
“The Beta Port Project is a great way to fully understand how the smallest vulnerability to a system can allow access to unwanted hackers. It also teaches us how to work as a team to eliminate the threat once it is detected.”
“When everything was 'falling apart' during the simulated 'attacks' on our networks, it was good to know that there were people who were able to work on the various issues and there were resources at hand (printed materials, online, et cetera) to guide me during these crises. Being able to work through the problem as part of a team lessened the fear and panic aspects that would have hit an individual dealing with the same issues alone. Having been through this series of simulations, I know now that these issues happen, and can be controlled and combated with training and experience.”