A university research team has rolled-out one of the first large scale Cloud-based infrastructures in Scotland for virtualised training within computer security and digital forensics.
The new infrastructure has resulted from many years of background research and understanding of the training environment, along with being the core of a new 500,000 euro project which trains law enforcement professionals across Europe.
The virtualised infrastructure is now being used in an undergraduate and postgraduate modules, which teach advanced topics in computer security, including for penetration testing and vulnerability analysis.
Prof Bill Buchanan outlines that "At present we have over 100 students using it, each running several virtual machines. Computer Science often has the reputation for boring tutorials and labs, but we want to change that can make our labs fun, with lots of interaction between, while promoting deep learning. We also want to support different ways to study, and our infrastructure provides a safe environment for students to learn, and break things, but where we can reset everything. As a teacher thus provides us full control of the learning environment, and supports fast changes in our teaching environment. Overall, we are learning as much about how to teaching in these environment, and are continually learning from the interactions that students have with the environment. We also want to push this learning as far as we can, and see how we can hot-house our students, in order to produce the best graduates possible.
It also allows students to leave the lab, and continue their learning at home. A key part of the development is to move toward group activities, including Red Team v Blue Team and Find the Flag activities, which make learning much more engaging, and hopefully fun!"
He also outlined that "we are building a world-leading team here, which aims to use our EU funding, and depth of knowledge in the area, to transform that the way teaching and training is undertaken in this. Already we have many students who are stimulated in the environment, and who want to undertake project, and have a range of companies who are keen to collaborate with us. Local industry is often demand more of our graduates, and this perhaps shows that what we teach them is up-to-the-minute subjects, and ones which are informed by the future direction of the industry".
Finally, he added, "Everything that we do to provide training for industry feeds back into our teaching, and vice-versa, so we improve our education infrastructure each time push ourselves to innovate in these environments. A great thing for us is to be able to go on-site with a company and training them in their own environment, and with an advanced infrastructure, which runs in our cloud. This spins-off to support remote and distance learning for our own students, too. Overall everyone wins, and we have fun too using it."