SANS Unveils the NetWars CyberCity for Cyberwar Training

Anthony Freed
By | November 27, 2012

Posted in: Network Security Trends

Itching to get your cyberwar on, but you just need a targeted city and the associated systems to defend? You're in luck. The SANS Institute today announced the launch of the NetWars CyberCity which will be used to instruct cyber warriors in the techniques required to defend critical networks against Internet-based attacks and secure a city’s vital physical infrastructure.

The NetWars CyberCity is a scale model of a municipality complete with miniature buildings, houses, utilities, transportation, banking, a hospital, and other networks that govern critical infrastructure assets which function in the same way as real-world systems, and was developed to demonstrate how cyber attacks can have actual kinetic effects.

“The threat of kinetic effect is real. We have seen detailed evidence of foreign nations deep inside the computer networks of our financial services companies, manufacturing companies and critical infrastructure," said SANS Institute Eric Bassel in an email press release.

Cyber warriors from the Defense Department, other government entities, and the private sector will get the chance to hone their countermeasure skills in a hands-on style field operations environment while defending against realistic attack scenarios aimed at crippling the model city's primary systems. The hope is that this kind of training will better prepare our nation's cyber first-responders in the event of an actual attack against critical networks.

"When you lose control of cyberspace, you lose control of the physical world," Bassel said. "The attacks have been going on for many years, yet we have made only limited strides in fighting them off. With NetWars CyberCity we hope to turn the tables by providing our first-line cyber defenders with the necessary skills and hands-on training to fend off online attacks and regain control of cyberspace.”

NetWars CyberCity was developed in response to a challenge by U.S. Military cyber commanders who envisioned an intense cyber defense training program that would be organized around specific missions designed to be as close to a real-world experience as possible. Missions will vary in duration, with some lasting only hours while others may go on for several days.

“We’ve built over eighteen missions, and each of them challenges participants to devise strategies and employ tactics to thwart computer attacks that would cause significant real-world damage,” said Ed Skoudis, SANS Instructor and NetWars CyberCity Director.

The first trainings will begin in December, and SANS plans to proceed with additional training missions as they are completed, with the final touches on the NetWars CyberCity to be completed by March of 2013. The program is also available for organizations in the private sector, and more information about the opportunity to participate can be obtained by contacting SANS at

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