About the Cybersecurity Lab

Whenever we go online—to shop, chat with our friends, or do anything else—we put ourselves at risk of cybercrime. Computer viruses can corrupt our files, hackers can steal our data, and criminals can trick us into revealing sensitive information. But luckily there are simple steps we can take to protect our digital lives.

Cybersecurity 101

There are simple steps we can take to protect our digital lives.

From “Cybersecurity 101”

NOVA has teamed up with cybersecurity experts to create the Cybersecurity Lab, a game in which players will discover how they can keep their digital lives safe and develop an understanding of cyber threats and defenses. Players will advance by using computer coding, logical reasoning, critical thinking, and vulnerability detection to solve various problems. These are the same skills employed regularly by cybersecurity professionals. However, players won’t need any prior cybersecurity or coding expertise to succeed. 

Context

In the game, players work for a start-up social network company that is the target of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. Working alongside their friend and colleague—a brilliant, business-savvy entrepreneur—their goal is to grow their tiny company into a global empire. To do this, players must complete challenges to strengthen their cyber defenses and thwart their attackers. There are four major gameplay components: a coding challenge, a password challenge, a social engineering challenge, and a series of cyber battles. 

Coding Challenge

This challenge is an introduction to basic computer programming. Computer code is usually written in text, but in this challenge we’re using Blockly, a visual computer programming editor created by Google that uses drag-and-drop blocks that can be stacked together to create a computer program. Players will program a robot to navigate a maze using Blockly drag-and-drop commands. 

coding
Players will program a robot to navigate a maze using drag-and-drop commands.

From the Cybersecurity Lab

Password-Cracking Challenge

A Password is the most common way people prove their identities online, so using a strong password is essential for keeping digital information safe. In this challenge, players face a series of “password duels” that teach the basics of how attackers might try to crack their passwords and how they can create passwords that are more secure. 

Social Engineering Challenge

Scammers try to trick people into handing over sensitive information and downloading computer viruses from emails. In this challenge, players will learn to spot scam emails, websites and phone calls. They will complete the challenge armed with practical tips that will help them avoid becoming victims of social engineering scams. 

Network Cyber Battles

By completing the challenges, players will earn resources to buy cyber defenses to protect their companies against a series of cyber attacks that reflect the types of attack that real companies and institutions often fall victim to. Players will learn about a range of cyber attacks and how to effectively defend institutions from them.

battle
An in-game cyber attack

From the Cybersecurity Lab

Videos and Cyber Stories

The Lab also features stories of real-world cyber attacks, a glossary of cyber terms, short animated videos, and video quizzes. The videos explain the need for cybersecurity; privacy versus security; cryptography (cyber codes); and what exactly hackers are. 

Future Cyber Defenders

There is a broad range of jobs in the field of cybersecurity and a severe shortage of people with the specialized skills required to do them. As our lives become ever more intertwined with the Internet, the opportunities in this field will expand further. NOVA’s Cybersecurity Lab is a starting point to inspire a new generation of cyber defenders. 

Play the Cybersecurity Lab Game

Take the Cybersecurity Lab Video Quizzes

Cybersecurity Lab