RangeForce gets backing from Cisco for plugging cyber security skills gap

Properly trained IT security teams are the best defense against hackers and the loss of sensitive data, says RangeForce.
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor
Team of programmers working on new project.

IT security teams need training and testing to be effective.

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RangeForce has raised $16 million from investors that included Cisco Systems, for its virtual reality cyber-security training platform derived from NATO cyber defense technologies that can emulate multiple security systems. The platform simulates attacks in real-time and teaches teams about older-but-still-effective attacks along with newer exploits.

The Series A funding will be used to expand a salesforce targeting the enterprise IT sector. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to limit computer breaches because of new laws in Europe and the US, especially California. But there remains a constant shortage of computer security professionals with the right experience to counter modern exploits.

"Companies can ensure that their security teams have the skills they need and have the experience, via our real-life simulation attacks, to know what to do and how to work together," said Gordon Lawson, president and CRO of RangeForce. "There are some great security tools but they are not much use if the team doesn't know how to use them. And there are well-known attacks that an experienced team would know how to respond."

Lawson said that there are many known vulnerabilities such as SQL injection that continue to plague users and remain unpatched. Vendors often suffer from internal politics and pushback in efforts to fix troubled software. 

RangeForce has created hundreds of what it calls real-world training modules, which simulate an actual security incident modeled around the tools and apps used by the business. There are many vendor-specific training modules such as for Splunk, Carbon Black, and Recorded Future. Cisco uses the platform to train its salespeople on its security tools.

RangeForce has been growing very quickly and reported a 2,700% year over year increase in annual revenues. 

"The evolving threat landscape continues to highlight one of the greatest challenges facing the global security industry today: the workforce-skills gap," said Bret Hartman, vice president and CTO of Cisco's Security Business Group.

In addition to Cisco, Energy Impact Partners and Paladin Capital Group joined the Series A funding. 

Lawson said that the funding was raised during the COVID-19 lockdown. Investors appreciated the increased pressure on enterprise security teams from the lockdown. IT departments must now protect a corporate workforce that is distributed across the office to home -- increasing the opportunities for hackers. 

A recent report from SonicWall found that COVID-19 has created a "boon" for criminals. Common office document types such as Microsoft Office have become heavily used vectors by criminals hoping staff working from home will be distracted and click on the wrong links. 

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