“Simulated Critical Infrastructure Protection Scenarios” (SCIPS) – the gamification of cyber security strategy

In order to build and maintain secure computer systems, it is vital that Cyber Security is understood and acknowledged as a critical issue by all levels of an organisation.  To improve the awareness and understanding of cyber security in executives it is important that they recognise the potential impact that modern cyber threats may have on their business.

Experts in the Cyber Technology Institute at De Montfort University have developed a scenario planning game – SCIPS – in which a geopolitical situation plays out over the course of a number of turns .  The scenario requires executives to make a series of investment decisions based around the maintenance of a Critical National Infrastructure facility; an electric power generation plant.

Each participant takes on a predefined senior executive role, with the teams being required to balance a limited investment budget against competing market, corporate and personal priorities.  Each turn requires a team decision, this involves selecting from a range of potential security measures that may be implemented and also which budget will fund these measures.

The game has been designed to encourage discussion within the teams, with all actions having potential benefits but a reduction in any budget leads to a negative financial situation for at least one player.

As the game progresses, the actions taken by players can mitigate the impact of malicious actions upon their company, which in turn impacts upon the share price of the company.

Success in the game is based upon the financial status of the company at the end of the game, with the CEO of the company with the highest share price and projected dividend being declared the winner!

Game Overview – “Play Space”
The play space of the game is based around a game board, role cards, security activity cards (with associated costs and time), video feeds, newspaper ‘cuttings’, a tablet player interface and an overall leader board.  All of the components of the play space interact, using a mix of soft and hard (physical) game play elements.

Game Board
The game board provides an illustration of a power plant to set the scene for the players, and to act as a focal point around which they can gather.  It provides placeholders for any security activities that are purchased, to act as a quick reference for their increasing defensive capabilities.

Role Cards
The role cards are picked at random by the players, these describe their responsibilities within the organisation and their compensation packages.
There are 5 roles, each of which will have a different perspective on the situation given their position and responsibility.  The roles are;
• Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
• Chief Operating Officer (COO)
• Compliance Director
• Plant Director
• Security Director

Videos and Press Cuttings
At the beginning of each round a video is played to the teams via their tablet interfaces. It presents a simulated news broadcast that explains the initial scenario that will subsequently develop as the game progresses. The videos are supplemented by newspaper cuttings that summarise the news broadcasts so that players can refer back to salient points.

 Tablet Player Interface
The players within the teams interact with the game and leader board through the tablet player interface. In the example screenshot, a team purchases security cards.
The leader board displays the financial positions of each of the teams, providing a comparative evaluation of their performance at the end of each round.


The SCIPS game is designed to introduce and encourage critical thinking about the nature and timeliness of Cyber Security investment and to promote the view that it is a strategic issue for companies, highlighting the fact that investment during an attack is too late.  Upcoming developments include the implementation of new scenarios; for example, an attack on a chemical engineering plant.

SCIPS has been developed by Allan Cook, a current PhD student in the Cyber Technology Institute at De Montfort University.

For further information about SCIPS, and your organisation could benefit from it, please contact: cybertech.support@dmu.ac.uk

Further reading:

Cook et al, 2016.  Using Gamification to Raise Awareness of Cyber Threats to Critical National Infrastructure. IN: Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium for ICS & SCADA Cyber Security Research. Available at: http://ewic.bcs.org/upload/pdf/ewic_icscsr2016_paper10.pdf


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Meet our experts…. Professor Helge Janicke


Professor Helge Janicke is the Head of the Cyber Technology Institute; as well as the Head of the School of Computing and Informatics at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Professor Janicke obtained his first degree in practical informatics from the University of Applied Sciences in Emden (Germany) and was awarded his PhD in Computer Science in 2007.

He has worked on Cyber Security with a wide range of organisations including Qinetiq, the Ministry of Defence and General Dynamics UK as part of the Data and Information Fusion Defence Technology Centre (DIF-DTC) consortium.

His research interests relate to formal verification techniques and their application to Cyber Security, SCADA and Industrial Control System Security as well as aspects of Cyber Warfare.

He works closely with Airbus Group and established DMU’s Airbus Group Centre of Excellence in SCADA Cyber Security and Forensics Research in 2013.

In addition, Professor Janicke is a general chair of the International Symposium on SCADA and Industrial Control Systems Cyber Security Research (ICS-CSR) as well as serving on the editorial board and as reviewer for a number of international journals.


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Industry and academia: stronger together for a secure and resilient cyberspace

We are very fortunate at the Cyber Technology Institute to have the support of an Industrial Advisory Group (IAG), formed of world leading companies at the forefront of all 13 sectors of Critical National Infrastructure.  Comprised of Airbus Group, BT, Deloitte and Rolls-Royce, our IAG provides not just guidance to both research and teaching here in the CTI; but also funding through commercial contracts and collaborative research bids.


We are very proud of this long-standing partnership as we value the expertise they bring; and we understand the importance of the relationship between industry and academia. This is a view shared by Dr Kevin Jones, the Head of Cyber Operations Research Team for Airbus Group Innovations – himself a graduate of De Montfort University:

“We believe that partnerships and collaborations between academia and industry are important to address the UK cyber skills shortage, and ensure that the UK remains a leader and innovator in cyber security for years to come.  As an Airbus Group centre of excellence for ICS cyber security, De Montfort University is one of our major collaborators in the UK.”

Dr Kevin Jones, Airbus Group

The real-world experience of the members of our IAG informs our teaching which ensures that our programmes are relevant to the existing challenges faced by industry and our graduates gain the knowledge and skills to deal with them.

Through collaborative research, we are also able to transform current thinking in cyber security in order to anticipate the needs of the future.

These kinds of collaborations are clearly at the heart of meeting the objectives of a secure and resilient cyberspace.

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What is the CTI?

Logo - bold (Full Black) CMYK

C.T.I stands for the Cyber Technology Institute.  The Cyber Technology Institute is a newly-formed research institute in the Faculty of Technology at De Montfort University.

Though, we are not really new….

In fact, the CTI is a collaboration between three well-established research centres: the Cyber Security Centre (CSC); the Software Technology Research Laboratory (STRL) and the Context Intelligence and Interaction Research Group (CIIRG).

The Cyber Security Centre is a well-established research centre with academics and experts working in a range of security and digital forensic research areas.  These include both the technical aspects of security, such as incident response, penetration testing, and industrial control system security; as well as the human factors of cyber security such as privacy issues and cyber psychology.

The Software Technology Research Laboratory is another well-established research centre with a history of developing and delivering high quality research and teaching in the field of software engineering with a focus on the study, analysis and advancement formal approaches to the specification, design and evolution of computing.

The Context Intelligence and Interaction Research Group focusses on the research areas of smart technologies and solutions using the latest emerging technologies, including advanced sensing technologies, mobile computing, Internet of Things, pervasive computing, semantic technologies, cloud computing, to support the new wave of applications, including smart homes, smart cities, intelligent transport, smart cyber-physical systems, to name but a few.

Bringing together these multi-disciplinary experts represents a holistic approach to the current and future challenges of cyber technology.

This means that the Cyber Technology Institute is excellently placed to work with industry and public sector partners to develop and disseminate practical solutions to key challenges of emerging technologies and to support the national strategy of developing a smart, safe, and secure cyber-space.

Learn more about our interesting research and partnerships in our upcoming posts.

In the meantime, for more information about the Cyber Technology Institute, please visit: www.dmu.ac.uk/cybertech.

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Welcome to the Cyber Technology Institute Blog!

The Cyber Technology Institute at De Montfort University is launching this blog in order to keep you up-to-date with the interesting things our staff and students are doing in relation to the fields of cyber security, digital forensics and software engineering.

2017 is going to be a busy year for us so keep an eye out for our regular updates!

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Hello world!

Welcome to DMU Commons. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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