With an increase in demand for cybersecurity professionals, more effective cybersecurity training methods are needed to consistently build student proficiency to the level required by industry. Traditional computer science education methods do not adequately prepare students for the challenges, tools and work environments they face in the cybersecurity industry.
A hands-on cyber range education method developed in 2018 addresses the need for a blended system design to support gamified education and training programs. The implemented method, entitled Gamification, Education, and System Engineering Design (GESED), requires an extensible integrated cyber range.
In the second class offering using the cyber range, host-based intrusion detection systems and network monitors are being added into the cyber range and curriculum. Offering students the ability to use these systems and monitors hands-on offers additional distinct learning advantage over conventional education methods. The research, presented in this paper, shows an increase in knowledge retention across multiple learning domains for the course when using the cyber range approach versus conventional methods. Course exam outcomes indicate that students are more likely to pass industry certification exams after training with our cyber range versus conventional methods. The learning outcomes from the implementation of network monitors and host-based intrusion detection systems into the cyber range environment will also be discussed. The GESED method was implemented using extensible design principles that were designed to allow enrolment growth. The paper will report on the efficacy of using the system for a class offering with double the original run’s student enrollment.