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Masaryk University opens a training place for cyber-attacks

MU Faculty of Informatics created a new study field, Information Technology Security.

The Cyber polygon will allow creating of a simulation of a computer network in a secure closed environment.

A physical and virtual space where experts will be able to simulate the most serious cyber-attacks and practise defence has been opened at the Faculty of Informatics and the Institute of Computer Science of Masaryk University. The Cyber polygon will allow creating of a simulation of a computer network in a secure closed environment, so attacks can be examined and tested without the risk of influencing a real external infrastructure. The equipment will be used by IT specialists from companies, students and staff of the National Security Authority and other security forces.

“The space for research and teaching of cyber security, whether the real or virtual one, we are opening today is another specific example of how the University contributes to the solution of current problems shared by society as a whole and how important the role of cooperation with other institutions is," said MU Rector Mikuláš Bek.

The new laboratory in conjunction with the software and, most importantly, necessary strong expert background will allow to stimulate virtually any part of the cyber environment. If experts wanted, for example, to practise defence against an attack on a nuclear power plant or a power network management system, they do not need to enter the physical infrastructure but they can model all this in a virtual environment.

Polygon will be used by experts on cyber security to teach students, by companies located in the CERIT science and technological park, by the State's security forces and, last but not least, by security teams of critical infrastructures. It will also be used by the National Security Authority for the training of its specialists and for various trainings or tests. “The first big endurance test on our side will be Cyber Czech 2015 training, which will take place in October. It will be a technical training that will simulate real cyber-attacks and it will be held completely in this polygon," said the director of the authority Dušan Navrátil.

Building of the Cyber polygon and related infrastructure, which is a further step in the development of research in the area of cyber security, required an investment of 22 million CZK, which the University obtained from the Security Research Program of the Czech Republic and the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovation.

Experts from MU have already participated for example in the preparation of the law on cyber security, which requires administrators of critical infrastructure to mind its security, because cyber-attacks target also the Czech Republic. The last big attack took place in 2013, it was staged into four days and targeted news portals, mobile operators and banks. However, the Czech Republic does not have enough experts for an efficient defence. This is one of the reasons that led to the creation of a new study field at the MU Faculty of Informatics, Information Technology Security, which deals specifically with this area.