Friday, March 4, 2022

Sleepless in Seattle over Cybersecurity

In this post, I discuss how Azure Lab Services is being utilized for teaching and learning about Cybersecurity.  I caught up with Dr. Andrew Reifers, my colleague at the University of Washington in Seattle, who teaches Cybersecurity courses in the Information School (iSchool) for the MSIM program. I also teach at the University of Washington as an adjunct faculty member in the iSchool. The University of Washington is one of the world's preeminent public universities. Ranked No. 7 in the world on the US News & World Report's Best Global Universities rankings, the UW educates more than 54,000 students annually. 


Andrew has been using Azure Lab services for almost two years from the time when the Covid19 lockdown started. According to him, "Azure Lab services have been a lifesaver in Covid." He teaches cybersecurity courses in the Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) program in the iSchool. He is using Azure Lab services for these two courses:

INFO 310 Information Assurance and Cybersecurity
Provides a theoretical and practical introduction to information assurance and cyber-security (IAC). Includes methods and practices for securing information and information systems. Covers how vulnerabilities arise, recognizing evolving threats, and mitigating them. Explores the role of risk analysis, information privacy, accountability, and policy.


IMT 555 Foundations of Cybersecurity
Examines information security challenges and solutions, which information management professionals contend with when providing technology services and applications based on-premises and cloud platforms. Students will solidify the terminology and security architecture via hands-on labs using open source and cloud-based tools. Covers security topics based relevant attack vectors.

He was looking for a controlled, vulnerable environment for his classes and decided to use Azure Lab services. For his virtual machine SKU, he decided to go with Medium nested virtualization SKU since he wanted to provide multiple nested virtual machines to each student. He uses both Windows-based and Linux VMs for his classes. Typically, using nested virtualization VM SKU and using Hyper-V, he sets up a Windows 2008 and Kali Linux. Initially, to set up Lab services, he worked with IT, and they helped set up the virtual machine images, and they saved them in the image gallery for reusing whenever the courses are offered again. Andrew also believes that for the value that Azure Lab Services provides "it is insanely affordable."


Check out this Youtube video of him using Azure Lab Services with nested virtual machines for one of his cybersecurity course lectures.   




For additional features, he would like faster virtual machine startup times for the teachers during the lecture. He also liked the option of having an all-up view of all student VMs in the lab for a particular class along with the ability to remotely control a particular student's virtual machine when students need help on their assigned virtual machine.




Posted at