Western’s Cybersecurity Program gets more funds

The cyber range allows students to practice protecting computer networks from digital attack
Adriannah Roman

Western’s cyber range, a training ground for the next generation of cybersecurity specialists, recently received $769,000 from the state to expand its support for other colleges and universities in the state.

Located in Poulsbo, the cyber range is a virtual environment that allows students to practice both breaching and protecting networks from digital attacks and viruses. It provides exercises to reinforce concepts that support the stability, security and performance of networks.

The Poulsbo cyber range is also national leader the Public Infrastructure Security Cyber Education System, or PISCES, which helps small government agencies identify cyber attacks with the help of student cyber analysts. Through PISCES, funded by the Department of Homeland Security and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, WWU students have identified and prevented the installation of ransomware, spotted phishing attempts from known hostile Russian IP addresses, identified unprotected systems on networks and prevented other nefarious or hazardous activities, said Erik Fretheim, director of the Cybersecurity Program.

“This is valuable for students as it educates them on how networks are protected while providing them hands-on experience in a live environment,” Fretheim said. “Students have secured excellent employment opportunities based on their experiences with PISCES.”

The new funding from the state will allow the cyber range to grow and expand while permitting the opportunity to purchase new equipment and bring in additional resources.

Fretheim says they’d like to increase the number of schools they are working with.

“Currently, we support the programs at Western and we support about eight other schools around the state that are using the cyber range in one way or another,” Fretheim says.

is an intern in Western's Office of University Communications.

Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash