‘Flight simulator’ for computer system administrators

Pacific Northwest National Laboratories scientists have created a prototype Systems Administrator Simulation Trainer (SAST) to enable systems administrators to identify, circumvent or recover from hacker activity.

Just as flight simulators provide real-world experience to pilots without jeopardising lives, a new cyber security training capability under development at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will give computer system administrators experience defending against cyber attacks without compromising their networks.

PNNL scientists have created a prototype Systems Administrator Simulation Trainer (SAST) to rapidly develop the cyber security experience of system administrators to identify, circumvent or recover from hacker activity.

The program consists of a network of training tools that simulate the cyber environment and are launched through an automated system.

When fully developed, students with broadband Internet access would use these tools remotely, reducing training costs and allowing continual access.

SAST was developed for the US Department of Defence’s Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) at the PNNL-based Critical Infrastructure Protection and Analysis Laboratory, a dedicated cyber research and development laboratory created specifically to counter cyber threats.

TSWG’s mission is to conduct the national interagency research and development program for combating terrorism through rapid research, development and prototyping.