A Gamified Training Environment for Cyber-Security (CyberGaTE)
A Higher Education Academy funded project
PI: Dr Chitra Balakrishna
Co-I: Professor Daniela Romano, James Coleman

CyberGaTE aims to bridge the skill-gap between theory and practice and address the needs of effective cyber-security training through innovative pedagogical practices such as game-based learning and the classroom as a service.

The objective of CyberGaTE is to develop a holistic cyber-security training that enables the change in learner’s behaviour by making them security conscious for every action they perform in the real-world environment. This would be achieved by hosting the gamified learning resources on a virtual training environment using the innovative concept of ‘Classroom as a Service’, offering the required hands-on real-world experience. The project aims to engage employers and students to build and assess CyberGaTE’s effectiveness as well as disseminate good practice in industry and academia.

The findings of the latest cyber security status report by ISACA indicates shortage of cyber-security professionals is universal and ongoing. A further study conducted by the Ministry of Universities and Science has identified a skills gap that exists amongst the fresh cyber-security graduates, who often do not possess the ability to apply their skills to real-world scenarios as employers demand. The study further identifies that the businesses value experience more than academic qualifications.

Effective cyber-security education unlike most other technical subjects not only requires a hands-on, real-world learning environment but also demands a change of behaviour amongst the learners.

Gamification is defined as applying game mechanics in a non-gaming context. Game players regularly exhibit persistence, risk-taking, attention to detail and problem solving; all behaviours are ideally suited for effective cyber-security training . Some gaming techniques that shall be explored are real-life problem-based storytelling that would form the basis of the learning content and the use of characters (avatar/role play) and the use of narrative to create a bond between the learner and the avatar thereby enhancing engagement as suggested by literature.

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