Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Key Recommendation to Avoid Pitfalls in Cybersecurity Wargaming Design

Wargaming has long been used by the military for research and training purposes. Given the growing complexity, sophistication, severity, and frequency of cyberattacks globally, wargaming is being applied to cybersecurity today across the public and private sectors.

Cyber wargaming design when done right and cyber wargaming when applied appropriately, are powerful tools to gauge the strength of the organization’s cybersecurity strategies and fortify the security posture thereon.

In this article, we delve deeper into cyber wargaming design and the pitfalls to avoid.

What is Cyber Wargaming?

Cyber wargaming is an interactive technique used to immerse participants in simulated cyberattack scenarios such as website defacements, malware attacks, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, and data breaches, among others.

The findings and insights from cyber wargames are leveraged to improve and strengthen incidence response, app and platform development, selection and integration of security defense technology and tools, compliance. and risk management.

Why is Cybersecurity Wargaming Necessary?

Test Organizational Readiness

Well-designed cybersecurity wargaming exercises enable organizations to test the organization’s readiness to avert attacks and keep their IT infrastructure and mission-critical assets protected.

Good cyber wargaming designs empower organizations to assess their capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Further, they enable organizations to make forecasts and strengthen the defense and offense strategies against cyberattacks.

Infuse Agility, Flexibility, and Adaptability into Cyber Strategies

With a fast-evolving business environment, threat landscape, and tech infrastructure, there is a sea of uncertainties. Traditional security and risk management strategies are found wanting.

With cyber wargaming, businesses can build a robust cybersecurity strategy that is agile, flexible, and easily adaptable. Being equipped to face these uncertainties gives organizations an edge.

Effective Training Tool

Humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity. Cyber wargames are powerful tools to provide hands-off, experiential training to different kinds of users.

This is especially useful for the training of business leaders and other decision-makers who do not have a tech background. This enables buy-ins and collaborative work towards better security.

How to Avoid the Pitfalls in Cyber Wargaming Design?

Ill-equipped game designers may reskin existing cyber exercises or create generic designs ignoring organizational context and player persona. Poorly designed cyber wargames are highly ineffective and lead only to a waste of precious resources.

Here are the key recommendations to avoid pitfalls in cyber wargaming design.

Establish Clear Goals

Setting goals based on the needs and context of the organization is critical for cyber wargaming success. If cyber wargaming is for the training of employees, then player personas, scenarios, etc. must reflect that.

If wargames need to show you the effectiveness of your incidence response plans and technical implications of downtimes caused, then the design must be different. In this scenario, you would require knowledgeable and skilled players to effectively identify security gaps.

Further, if you are designing for training purposes, you must establish learning and ludic goals that complement each other. Ludic goals are the objectives within the game such as protecting assets, de-escalating cyber incidents, identifying phishing, etc. These goals must balance each other, and the game must equally engage both goals. 

Set The Level of Realism

The right level of realism in cyber wargaming design is important to the success of wargames. Only such games ensure that the players are engaged effectively in meaningful events with critical and lasting takeaways.

From an active learning perspective, there needs to be a closeness to reality for a deeper impression. However, if the game is too real, it is often perceived as a real-world threat and creates unnecessary panic. If it is too real and the wargame includes too many uncertainties, it may raise the complexity of the game and make it inaccessible to users. If the level of realism is too low, then you may not get enough meaningful insights from the games.

Include the Right Subject Matter Experts in Designing

For cyber wargaming design to be effective, you must include the right subject matter experts in the process. You will need experts in cybersecurity, IT, game design, UX/ UI, and business processes, among others. This will help make the wargames holistic, engaging, and effective, thus improving the outcomes and ROI.

Leverage De-briefing

Every cyber wargaming exercise must end with de-briefing where the results are discussed, and suggestions solicited. It enables game designers to strengthen the design and participants to identify skills to improve, among others.

Keep The UI Clean and Simple

Cyber wargames that are complex to use, sap energies to other directions. The UI of the game must be clean, and the moves must be simple to make. This ensures better outcomes.


The effectiveness of cyber wargaming design affects the outcomes of cybersecurity wargames. Well-designed exercises help illuminate cyberspace, identify gaps and thereon strengthen cybersecurity with Industry leaders like Indusface.


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Guru baran
Guru baran
Gurubaran is a co-founder of Cyber Security News and GBHackers On Security. He has 10+ years of experience as a Security Consultant, Editor, and Analyst in cybersecurity, technology, and communications.

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