Comtech CyberStronger embraces early adoption of Skillable platform to combat cybersecurity risk.

By 2025, cybercrime is projected to cost the world $10.5 trillion per year. Digital transformation ushered in cloud-based software, remote data storage and asset digitization, but these technology advancements also increased malicious intent as more flexibility and better accessibility mean increased cybersecurity risk. Unfortunately, 63% of companies report shortages of cybersecurity professionals, which leaves their organizations open to risk.

Comtech and their CyberStronger™ team, represented by Erik Wallace, Director of Sales and Business Development, and Omid F., Director of Product Development and Deployment, respectively, are combatting that risk through a “hands-on” interactive virtual lab environment designed specifically for cyber skills training and assessment using the Skillable platform. As part of the CyberStronger division, the products CYBRScore® and PerformanScore® re-skill, up-skill and train the cybersecurity workforce with fast-reacting, mission critical capabilities.

A high stakes environment requires real-world performance.

Comtech launched the CyberStronger brand in response to the increasing danger of cybercrime and with the federal government’s needs in mind. Traditional training typically results in attendance-based outcomes, with a checked box when the learner watched a video or attended a training. In the high stakes and fast-moving environment of cybersecurity, Comtech needed a training mechanism that took knowledge-based certifications and best practices a step further to provide hands-on skilling for a real-world environment, and the best way to test for the real world is to create one virtually.  

Any virtual training environment needed to be intuitive, easy to create and configurable. The ability to react quickly to new cyber threats meant instructors needed to quickly set up training and focus on training content and validation, with the latest software updates and cybersecurity methods so the curriculum continued to be current and relevant.

Comtech also needed an integrated platform to map key knowledge, skills and abilities (dubbed “KSAs” by the Comtech team) into a set of gradable tasks based on a scenario running within a virtual environment.

They had a proprietary technology, PerformanScore, to assess their learners, but needed a platform to build, publish and deploy their content.

Website

www.comtech.com
www.cyberstronger.com

Mission

Provide entry-level through seasoned cyber professionals with world-class education to build knowledge, skills and abilities in the latest cybersecurity techniques, skills and best practices.

Year established

1967 as Comtech Laboratories, Inc.

Headquarters

United States

Lab footprint

~750,000 labs launched with Skillable
~4,500 labs published
~73,000 learners
~35 performance-based assessments

Use case

Comtech’s CyberStronger™ brand relies on validated skills development to teach federal government employed security professionals about new threats and apply the learnings in a real-world environment.  

"Cybersecurity is such a fast-moving industry and if you're not always trying to learn and innovate, you're going to fall behind. We're constantly creating new labs and trailblazing content for the training industry and cybersecurity."
Omid F
Director of Product Development and Deployment | Comtech's CyberStronger

Building cybersecurity techniques, skills and best practices on one platform.

Skillable’s comprehensive virtual lab platform, the SkillStack, makes it easy for lab developers to create labs and learners to acquire and apply knowledge. Trusted by industry leading companies, the platform is easy to use, can be integrated with other systems and provides a holistic experience focused on moving the learner from comprehension to application of knowledge.  

Quickly spin up labs to address evolving best practices.

One of the most critical elements for Comtech is the ability to quickly create new labs. Reducing time-to-knowledge and application is vital for organizations unprotected and under-resourced in the face of cyber threats.

Skillable’s template gallery enables CyberStronger lab developers to bypass software installation by choosing a lab template tailored for digital attack and defense. This cuts development time in half and focuses efforts on creating relevant and engaging content. When there are software updates or new threats merge, it’s easy to edit existing labs to reflect the current skilling need.

“The lab is a concept that we want learners to learn. As machines evolve and things change, sometimes things don’t work, for example, encryption might not break the same way. But the concept might still be a valid concept, so we'll do a modification and keep the lab current.”
Eric Wallace quote
Erik Wallace
Director of Sales and Business Development | Comtech
Integration with existing technology.

Contained within the Skillable platform, Comtech offers virtual labs on more than 40 cybersecurity and IT topics. Skillable’s virtual environment captures scoring data, between 100 and 400 assessment datapoints, all of them based on hands-on components, from what they typed to how well they handled presented scenarios and then Comtech’s patented PerformanScore technology tests understanding and application through scoring the KSAs.

PerformanScore and other Comtech systems are integrated with Skillable’s platform via API, creating a reliable way for Comtech to securely receive the rich engagement data each skilling experience provides and creating one platform for a complete solution.

Constant innovation in a secure environment.

Skillable can rely on Comtech to be the first to test and push the limits of new platform features. Their dedication to providing relevant and current information means creating a learning experience that goes well beyond the teach-test cycle.

New features and innovations from Skillable also help CyberStronger developers find new ways to keep learners engaged and learning. In fact, Skillable was chosen initially because it was more robust than other virtual IT lab providers and continues to be as the relationship grows.

With Comtech customers working in private enterprise, government and academic institutions around the world, the company requires scalable production and hosting environments. Skillable’s ability to support an average of 20,000 launches daily across five datacenters offer Comtech’s learners the flexibility to access the on-demand environment wherever they are – in a classroom, workplace or home.

“The platform is designed in such a way that you can work 24 hours a day,
from anywhere. That self-service flexibility is important and one of the ways
I hire people is to give them that freedom. It’s a very compelling reason for
people to join my team.”
Omid F
Director of Product Development and Deployment | Comtech's CyberStronger

Configured for their cybersecurity customers.

Comtech learners progress through tailored learning journeys, not guided steps. Mapped to a variety of different formats, including the NIST-NICE industry framework, Comtech’s labs focus on the seven high level categories of common cybersecurity functions. The ability to configure labs to specific competencies and related KSAs expected of a security professional is executed through the PerfomanScore technology and is key to creating relevant training.

Comtech also utilizes Skillable Challenges mixed in with their own – as well as partners’ content – to enhance their learners’ journeys. This ready-built, IT-focused content is a great complement to the organization’s cybersecurity labs and provides them access to additional performance-focused content when they need it.

“Performance-based assessments are an important initiative for us. We want performance-based labs that tie back to a KSA format so that if a learner is weak
in a certain area that we can recommend content that aligns with skilling needs, whether that’s lab training, a wiki, videos, courseware or a Challenge Lab.

Generally, where we’re building assessment content is where we’re generating
new lab content as well, so we want to make sure we have the proper setup
to link the two skillsets together.”
Eric Wallace quote
Erik Wallace
Director of Sales and Business Development | Comtech

Accurate performance-based outcomes.

Through hands-on, performance-based skilling, Comtech provides organizations with a level of protection by providing workers with a clearly defined pre-evaluation and then measures their progress against performance outcomes.

With their breadth of content and learner reach across the world, it’s no surprise that more than 750,000 labs have been launched in their tenure with Skillable. As a result, 90 to 95% of Comtech’s learners are showing real-world, job-ready proficiency after course completion.  

One recent success comes from a federal skilling cohort the team started in 2021 and are continuing in 2022. They conducted baseline skill measurements and then 12 weeks later went back to see where their learners were at, what they learned and what they could demonstrate. 

"95% of the learners achieved at least apprentice level skills coming out of
the program. We wouldn’t have been able to measure that skill level without
an assessment technique. It gives us a good validation that what we’ve trained
them on has been absorbed and that they’re job ready."
Eric Wallace quote
Erik Wallace
Director of Sales and Business Development | Comtech

Closing the skills gap.

Comtech’s fast adoption of existing and new features of the Skillable platform helps their experts develop and deliver truly unique hands-on skilling, which leads to more professionals armed with the skills needed to protect organizations from cybersecurity risk. 

With Skillable, Comtech can close the skills gap in the cybersecurity field as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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