RESTON, Virginia — The stronger technology gets, the greater the risk of an attack. That’s exactly why CACI, a provider of expertise and technology, built city block.
Kevin McNeill, senior vice president of the company, explained how governments, large corporations, military groups, as well as businesses, can all benefit from this new technology in protecting their systems.
“City Block is a capability that we built under internal research and development and the idea is to improve the capabilities to train cyber protection teams or network defenders about the complexities of critical infrastructure,” McNeill said. “We built this system so that we can dynamically introduce problems or introduce failures and then that trains them to recognize those failures.”
Large companies can save money on training with this system.
“Some of the training had to be done either with mock-ups or building actual infrastructure, which is quite expensive,” McNeill said. “So it saves time, saves money, we can also create new scenarios more rapidly.”
Virtual or augmented reality is crucial because young leaders are often those who have grown up with technology and played video games.
“That is in their comfort zone of how they think and learn so you have to make the training really what they resonate with and what they can take on board more rapidly,” McNeill said.
McNeill believes this is the future, and that more of it will be augmented or virtual reality.
Steven Beaty, a professor in computer science, explains to his students how important this type of preparation is to safeguard against cyberattacks.
“I think it can do an incredible amount of damage. We’ve seen individual things as you’ve mentioned gas pipelines, food processing, all of these other sorts of things, have you will individually attacked. Beaty stated, “We need to be careful around our entire infrastructure.”
Only those who have the experience of protecting this infrastructure can defend it.
“So again, the kinds of tools that are within the city block, are the same kinds of systems that are used in the real world that are used to do things like control those gas pipelines, the pumps, the flows, the valves, all of those things,” McNeill said.
CACI is their main business. It provides technology for national security.
“For everybody else, it’s an everyday aspect of their life. You hear about ransomware, you hear about hospitals being shut down because of ransomware taking over their systems and they have to pay bribes out, there’s been situations where whole cities get their systems compromised and can’t execute their business functions for the city and that impacts everybody,” McNeill said.
“I think there are some scenarios where people’s daily lives would be heavily influenced by one of these attacks,” Beaty said. “You attack wall street and all of a sudden, what our money is worth, what our stock is worth, what our companies are worth, those sorts of things I think becomes a very large issue.”
“We all saw what happened when that pipeline was shut down, gas prices went up, people panicked, they went to buy gas because that gas pipeline sent gas up along the east coast and there was very serious concern. McNeill explained that McNeill was only referring to one real-world cyber-attack.
City Block will grow and train those who are able to fight back to stop these possible threats from ever happening.