A Zero-Entry Cyber Range Environment for Future Learning Ecosystems

  • Elaine M. RaybournEmail author
  • Michael Kunz
  • David Fritz
  • Vince Urias


Sandia National Laboratories performed a 6-month effort to stand up a “zero-entry” cyber range environment for the purpose of providing self-directed practice to augment transmedia learning across diverse media and/or devices that may be part of a loosely coupled, distributed ecosystem. This 6-month effort leveraged Minimega, an open-source Emulytics™ (emulation + analytics) tool for launching and managing virtual machines in a cyber range. The proof of concept addressed a set of learning objectives for cybersecurity operations by providing three, short “zero-entry” exercises for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels in network forensics, social engineering, penetration testing, and reverse engineering. Learners provided answers to problems they explored in networked virtual machines. The hands-on environment, Cyber Scorpion, participated in a preliminary demonstration in April 2017 at Ft. Bragg, NC. The present chapter describes the learning experience research and software development effort for a cybersecurity use case and subsequent lessons learned. It offers general recommendations for challenges which may be present in future learning ecosystems.


Cyber Scorpion Minimega Cybersecurity Transmedia learning Zero-entry Cyber range Self-directed learning 



Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, Inc., for the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA-0003525. This work was supported by the ADL Initiative (Contract QL6H5R66F007MP-0). The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the ADL Initiative.


  1. 1.
    E.M. Raybourn, A new paradigm for serious games: Transmedia learning for more effective training & education. J. Comput. Sci. 5(3), 471–481 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    ADL Initiative, xAPI-Spec (2016). Accessed 28 Feb 2018
  3. 3.
    V. Shute, M. Ventura, Stealth Assessment: Measuring and Supporting Learning in Video Games, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    E.M. Raybourn, Applying simulation experience design methods to creating serious game-based adaptive training systems. Interact. Comput 19, 207–214 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    A. Tilghman, Without solid training options, mysterious cyber training command remains a work in progress. Military Times. (2016, 5 June),
  6. 6.
    V. Urias, B. Van Leeuwen, B. Wright W. Stout, in Emulytics™ at Sandia National Laboratories. Proceedings of MODSIM (NTSA, Arlington, VA, 2015)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    T. Bergin-Hill, R. Creekmore, J. Bornman, Designing a Serious Game for Eliciting and Measuring Simulated Taxpayer Behavior (The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA, 2014)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    B. Laurel, Computers as Theater (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1991)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    E.M. Raybourn, in A Metaphor for Immersive Environments: Learning Experience Design Challenges and Opportunities. Proceedings of MODSIM (NTSA, Arlington, VA, 2016)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    E. Hutchins, Cognition in the Wild (The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J. Bruner, The narrative construction of reality. Crit. Inq. 18(1), 1–21 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    W. Newhouse, S. Keith, B. Scribner, G. Witte, National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework. NIST Special Publication 800-181 (2017). Accessed 28 Feb 2018
  13. 13.
    Folsom-Kovarik, J.T. & Raybourn, E.M., in Total Learning Architecture (TLA) Enables Next-Generation Learning Via Meta-Adaptation. Proceedings of the I/ITSEC (NTSA, Arlington, VA, 2016)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    P.S. Gallagher, J.T. Folsom-Kovarik, S. Schatz, A. Barr, S. Turkaly, in Total Learning Architecture Development: A Design-Based Research Approach. Proceedings of the I/ITSEC (NTSA, Arlington, VA, 2017)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Raybourn, E.M., Fabian, N., Davis, W., Parks, R.C., McClain, J., Trumbo, D., Regan, D., Durlach, P., in Data Privacy and Security Considerations for Personal Assistants for Learning (PAL). Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces Companion (2015), pp. 69–72Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elaine M. Raybourn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael Kunz
    • 1
  • David Fritz
    • 2
  • Vince Urias
    • 1
  1. 1.Sandia National LaboratoriesAlbuquerqueUSA
  2. 2.Sandia National LaboratoriesLivermoreUSA

Personalised recommendations