University of Arizona and City of Sierra Vista Provide Real-World Experience In Understanding Cyberattacks

The City of Sierra Vista, Arizona, will be working with the University of Arizona and Social-Engineer – a Florida cybersecurity training and services company – to give students and city staff real-world experience in understanding cyberattacks. Students at the University of Arizona’s College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) will have the option to enroll in a course that allows them to attempt non-malicious cyberattacks on city employee computers through the new partnership.

“This partnership will help protect our people and give them a world-class education on recognizing and avoiding cyber attacks,” Sierra Vista Chief Information Officer, Abe Rubio said. “Real attacks can be costly, time-consuming, and difficult to repair. This partnership will not only save the City money but will make all of our employees much more secure.”

The goal of the partnership is to both improve employee recognition of cyberattacks and grant students experience in understanding social engineering. Social engineering is the term used for a broad range of malicious activities accomplished through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information. Social engineering attacks usually occur with the perpetrator first investigating the intended victim to gather necessary background information – such as potential points of entry and weak security protocols – needed to proceed with the attack. Then, the attacker moves to gain the victim’s trust and provide stimuli for subsequent actions that break security practices, such as revealing sensitive information or granting access to critical resources.

The course will teach CAST students the methods, psychology, and tools used by hackers under the direction of Christopher Hadnagy, CEO of Social-Engineer and adjunct professor of social engineering at CAST.

“One of the hardest tasks in educating students about social engineering is finding ways to provide skills practice that are both legal and ethical,” said Christopher Hadnagy, the CEO of Social-Engineer.