Cybersecurity Training Platform

Developing resilience in the face of cyber attack

NUARI helps organizations create a cybersecurity-aware culture so everyone will know what to do when an attack occurs.

NUARI Taps ICS' Design Studio Boston UX to Reinvigorate Cybersecurity Training Platform

By 2025, cybercrime costs are projected to top $10.5 trillion, up from $3 trillion in 2015, according to Embroker. As cyber attacks grow more targeted, sophisticated and frequent – there's a cyber attack every 39 seconds according to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland – businesses are taking the threat seriously. They’re implementing measures to protect their finances and safeguard their corporate reputation, for instance hardening IT systems and networks. Many are also providing employees and partners with hands-on cybersecurity training so stakeholders at all levels will know how to react effectively when a cyberattack occurs.

NUARI is a leading provider of this type of scenario-based cybersecurity training. A 501(c)(3) non-profit partially funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, NUARI serves the public interest through the interdisciplinary study of critical national security issues. Co-located with Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, NUARI brings together users from across sectors, geographies and roles to jointly participate in critical infrastructure exercises via NUARI’s DECIDE® Cybersecurity Exercise Platform.

NUARI asked Integrated Computer Solutions' design group Boston UX to help them reimagine their legacy DECIDE® Platform to better engage audiences – users across an organization, not just the specialists in IT – in a world with escalating threats.

Throughout a three-hour simulation, participants collaborate and complete exercises that mimic cyber attacks to stress and test incident response plans. The goal: help organizations improve strategic communication, compliance, risk and overall resilience.

NUARI interface screens

Hacker at monitorsThe Challenge

The existing Windows-like platform was dated and difficult to navigate. As a result, participants spent much of their limited training time learning how to complete the exercises rather than actively engaging with the scenarios. NUARI wanted to modernize the design and significantly enhance the user experience by creating a more intuitive application that fostered learning. In addition, NUARI sought an appealing and branded desktop design that was also tablet-friendly.

Decide UIThe Solution

After thoroughly examining each exercise to clearly understand the various threat scenarios, the design team created a solution that accommodated user tendencies in a way that was relevant and engaging. For instance, Boston UX designed a new, less complex information architecture that made navigating the platform quicker and easier, and enhanced NUARI’s ability to onboard new users.

Boston UX also designed an intuitive drag and drop interface and devised other creative ways to allow players to seamlessly switch between information screens on the fly. These efforts ensure that users can access the right information at the right time, which enhances learning.

To further support learning, Boston UX integrated the ability to customize workspaces. With the reimagined design, NUARI can add context, easily customize questions and exercises, and tailor simulations for specific groups to ensure the simulations are relevant to participants' unique situations.

The flexible new design system, which includes wireframes, a full component library and a working prototype, also makes it easier to create questions in a variety of formats. This ensures that the training tool will continue to be relevant even as the threat landscape evolves.

Conference room meetingThe Result

The redesigned training portal application is a dramatic departure from the original look and feel, yet still respects NUARI’s established branding. As a result, users are more engaged now than ever. Today, NUARI has a truly exceptional cybersecurity exercise platform that equips customers with the situational awareness, strategic communications capabilities, and critical security gap identification they need to prevail against serious cyber threats. (In the photo at right a NUARI exercise facilitator assists participants during a distributed cybersecurity exercise utilizing the DECIDE® Platform.)

"The redesigned DECIDE® user interface is clean, modern and much more intuitive for inexperienced exercise participants. The improved backend exercise-planning functionality allows our team to create immersive scenarios that fully engage and test participants. We could not be more thrilled with the outcome of our collaboration with Boston UX."

Kristen Pedersen, PhD, Vice President, Cyber Operations, Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI)