Immediate cyber skills development

Industry
Health and social care

Location
Leeds, UK

Challenge
Reduce cybersecurity risk across the health and care sector

Quickly upskill hundreds of cybersecurity staff across dispersed locations

Ensure that the NHS is prepared and protected against cyber-attack

Results
IBM partnered with Immersive Labs to deliver immediate practical learning for NHS staff as part of its transformation project

NHS security staff have 24/7 access to a cloud-based cybersecurity skills platform providing practical, intelligence-led labs

500 specialist staff are now actively upskilling through Immersive Labs
Business background
NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre (DSC) provides comprehensive support, free of charge, to increasingly digitized health and care organizations to manage cybersecurity risk. This enables the safe and secure use of data and technology to deliver improved patient care. It works to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of patient data while protecting clinical and business systems from vulnerabilities and threats. This enables NHS organizations to remain focused on delivering day-to-day, local operational and clinical priorities and to provide safe, effective and efficient patient care.
Challenge
Following a request from the Secretary of State for Health in 2016, Dame Fiona Caldicott carried out an independent review of information sharing to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between the protection of patient information and the use and sharing of information to improve patient care. This included a review with recommendations to strengthen the security of health and care information and ensure people can make informed choices about how their data is used.

The review identified 10 data security standards, which included prioritizing user awareness and staff training to improve all health and care organizations’ security posture.
Solution
To ensure the NHS has a skilled workforce ready to respond to the increasing threat of cyber attack, NHS Digital partnered with IBM to provide health and care organizations with a number of free user licenses to the Immersive Labs cybersecurity e-learning platform.

For staff with a responsibility for cybersecurity at an operational level, Immersive Labs provides the user with hands-on, simulated exercises to develop sought-after skills such as analytical thinking, problem solving, and perseverance. Licenses last for three years and help security leads develop their cyber skills and expertize in an interactive online environment.

The courses can be worked through at an individual’s own pace, with new material added weekly to encourage continuous learning and user engagement.

The adaptive learning approach has enabled security operations teams across the system to develop their capability as well as prepare for and respond to potential cyber threats.
"The platform is feature rich and has something for everyone. I particularly like that labs are grouped into sections (knowledge, tools, techniques, etc.) and further into specific disciplines/tools because it allows the user to concentrate on areas that interest them. In terms of professional skill development, I have refreshed my knowledge. I can see how Immersive Labs can help to reduce risk across the wider NHS estate and would actively encourage my peers to participate in Immersive Labs to refresh and validate technical knowledge and develop new skills."
Senior Cyber Security Specialist, NHS Digital.
Benefits
NHS staff were immediately able to access more than 500 adaptive learning and threat intelligence labs covering a range of cybersecurity topics, including ethical hacking, malware analysis and secure coding. There are labs suited to every level and various pre-set objectives that help guide learning. There is even a series dedicated to security in the healthcare industry called Immersive Care, with new content covering the latest threats added every week.

Immersive Labs is completely browser based and does not require installation or plugins. Through its gamified learning environments known as ‘labs’, the platform helped staff upskill and, in turn, protect one of the world’s most important healthcare systems – the NHS.

The first lab was completed within one hour of Immersive Labs becoming available. After just eight months of use, 500 NHS staff had carried out over 300 hours of cybersecurity training, completing over 14,000 labs and modules across a diverse range of topics including risk, compliance, penetration testing, threat hunting, and incident response. This training will help to ensure that the NHS is better protected through a team of highly skilled specialist staff.
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