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Michigan Launches 'Cyber Range' to Enhance Cybersecurity

The range, opened on Nov. 9, trains cybersecurity professionals in detecting and preventing cyberattacks in a real-world setting.

by / November 9, 2012
Gov. Rick Snyder prepares to cut the ribbon on the new Michigan Cyber Range. The ribbon is wrapped around a rack of servers that will power the cybersecurity training. Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Today in Ann Arbor, Mich., Gov. Rick Snyder cut the ribbon on a cyber training center called the Michigan Cyber Range -- a resource that will prepare cybersecurity professionals in the detection and prevention of cyberattacks in a real-world setting, according to a press release.  

The new initiative aims to enhance Michigan’s protection of computer systems and sensitive data by pairing cybersecurity resources -- a full curriculum of meetings and workshops, and critical cybersecurity training and awareness tools -- with hands-on training opportunities. For instance, students can perform lab exercises and out-of-class work that uses the range’s virtual environment and text, video chat and Web conferencing capabilities. The range helps individuals and organizations develop detection and reaction skills through simulations and exercises.

“Every day, breaches to computer systems threaten the security of data – data that may include personal information about Michigan’s citizens,” Snyder said in the release. “This partnership to establish the Michigan Cyber Range benefits all levels of government, as well as educational systems, private businesses and industry.”

The Cyber Range is hosted by Merit Network, a nonprofit corporation governed by Michigan’s public universities, and serves as a central resource hub and a partner in innovation and collaboration, according to the release.  

"The range will offer classes and curriculums that are in line with the cybersecurity education initiatives," said Kurt Weiss, public information officer at the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. "Merit, in collaboration with the board and the key stakeholders, is currently developing the curriculum. The first class is slated for January."

The range will offer different tracks that students can take, and the length of time it will take a student to get through the program will be dependent upon the track, Weiss said. In the end, students will receive certification, which the state is determining with National Institute of Standards and Technology.   

Also, cost is not yet determined, he said, but pricing is currently in development. Critical areas that will benefit from the creation of the Michigan Cyber Range include:

  • infrastructure defense;
  • homeland security;
  • criminal justice and law enforcement;
  • academic and educational programs and curricula related to information and communications technology; and
  • entrepreneurial, small and medium businesses.

At today's ribbon cutting ceremony, Eastern Michigan University (EMU) students showed Snyder what they were working on to protect a system, Weiss said. "It was a demo, but very cool." 

Initially EMU will host the range's physical assets, and additional sites are planned for Ferris State University and the 110th Airlift Wing in Battle Creek. Additional funding could mean expansion to as many as 10 sites. 

“The Michigan Cyber Range will provide a capability not found anywhere else in the world,” said John Nixon, director of the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget, in the release. “In Michigan, we have a governor who understands the importance of safeguarding our resources. His commitment will ensure that a broad range of cybersecurity professionals have access to current methods and resources."

The Michigan Cyber Range is part of Snyder's Michigan Cyber Initiative, which launched in fall 2011 to improve cybersecurity efforts.  

Want to get a feel for the Cyber Range? Check this out:


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Jessica Mulholland Former Web Editor/Photographer

Jessica Mulholland served as the Web editor of Government Technology magazine from October 2012 through September 2017. She worked for the Government Technology editorial team for nearly 10 years.

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