First developed to support cyber defense competitions (CDCs), ISERink is a virtual laboratory environment that allows students an opportunity to undertake hands-on activities focused on networking, cyber security, and penetration testing. It is built upon an Internet testbed named ISEAGE that provides a real world networking environment for students. To the students it appears as if their network, which uses public address space, is directly connected to the Internet. In reality, the students’ traffic is contained in the controlled ISEAGE testbed. This prevents misconfigurations or other beginner mistakes from disrupting a classroom or campus network.
Currently ISERink is used by two major Midwestern universities, one Iowa community college, and more than 100 Iowa high schools. The environment is flexible enough to support traditional classroom activities such as laboratories, as well as hands-on activities for training sessions, short courses. and workshops. ISERink is currently used in university courses on networking, introduction to security, information warfare, and a masters level capstone course. It has been used in cyber security workshops for accountants, as well as electrical power system employees.
These use cases have grown out of ISERink’s beginnings as an environment for high school, community college, and four-year university students to participate in inquiry-based learning CDCs. More than 30 CDCs over the past seven year have been run using this platform. Additionally, ISERink and its core ISEAGE are used for conducting research on cyber security.
ISERink development and distribution is supported in part by the Department of Justice and the National Science Foundation.