Chuck Brooks: Vice President of Government Relations & Marketing, Sutherland Government Solutions

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For many years the defense and intelligence communities have relied upon a concept called gamification to test concepts, strategies, and potential outcomes in various scenarios via computer simulation. They have found that gamification heightens interest of the players involved and serves as a stimulus for creativity and interchange of ideas which is vital for keeping an edge. As computers have become faster and more capable and data gathering abilities have has exponentially grown, gamification has become a “go to” process for many involved in the security community.

The information and technology research firm Gartner defines gamification as “the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals”. They note that gamification applies these ideas to motivate the audience to higher and more meaningful levels of engagement.

Recently, one of the global “Big Four”, consulting firm PwC, held a gamification exercise with its senior executives. They created a game that pitted defenders against attackers that simulated a cyber-attack comprised from real-life data that of some of their clients. The mostly non-technical executives who participated were able to get a better grasp of how their actions impacted outcomes. Christian Arndt, a cybersecurity director at PwC, said the participants in the game were able to “develop a better knowledge of the threat actors, tools and techniques which could threaten their systems and data”.

Gamification in cybersecurity for both the public and private sectors makes great sense for several reasons. 1) It creates an ability to discover gaps in in the monitoring framework, 2) It can be a guiding element in allowing companies to best determine how they direct their resources toward mitigating vulnerabilities and threats, and 3) It helps address the workforce shortage and plugs the skills gap by cultivating a next generation of computer and video gamers.