Military Uses Model-Train Town To Prepare For Cyber Attacks

Military Uses Model-Train Town To Prepare For Cyber Attacks

The 48 square-foot CyberCity trains government hackers to handle e-terrorist assaults on U.S. infrastructure.

Ryan Gerhardt
  • 4 january 2013

A working electric grid, banking system, transportation system – complete with train station – and even WiFi. This could describe many real towns in the U.S. except for the fact that its 15,000 residents are virtual.

The SANS Institute, which trains military and government officials on information-security, designed such a city to simulate real-life cyber attacks. Despite its miniature stature at 48 sq.ft., CyberCity’s infrastructure is designed to react technologically and physically just as a real city would under a cyber attack.


The digital networking of everything from bank accounts to personal information and defense systems make our more-convenient world more susceptible to attack. Ed Skoudis, the founder of Counter Hack and an instructor on CyberCity, notes that cyber-based attacks are no longer just about data-hacking and spying:

The threat is changing. It’s still [about digital security], but adding to that, it’s now people hacking into computers to cause real-world physical damage.

The real-world repercussions of cyber attacks grows everyday as more infrastructure components, i.e. power plants,hospitals, and government agencies,  are linked digitally. The Pentagon has openly recognized this, with the Secretary of Defense identifying digital attacks as the next battlefield, capable of being ‘as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11.’ And the Pentagon should know, considering the U.S. launched a cyber attack disabling Iranian nuclear infrastructure in 2009 and 2010.


With programmed scenarios, encompassing everything from hackers inducing blackouts at the CyberCity ‘power plant’ to cyber terrorists derailing trains and taking over the transportation system, the model is meant to develop counter-hacking skills among military and government security personnel. The model, which is surrounded by five mounted cameras, provides a video stream and other attack signals for trainees to observe and respond to, thus bettering their own counter-hacking capabilities.

CyberCity is not the only model of this kind for combating cyber terrorism. The National Cyber Range, being developed by DARPA, will represent a scale model of the Internet and allow for more in-depth cyber war-games to be carried out.

The military is obviously no stranger to using simulated environments for training maneuvers, and CyberCity is hopeful that this success will translate to the digital level.

SANS Institute

Images by Co.Exist



Transformable Table Maximizes Utility In Small Spaces

Design & Architecture
Syndicated Yesterday

How Fashion Became All About Fonts

Why a new wave of designs have put typography front and center on your clothing

Retail Yesterday

GM And Audi Are Experimenting With Car Rentals In SF

The automakers are trying something new to capture the segment of urban dwellers who don't want to own a car


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel Yesterday

This Vertical Forest Hotel Will Improve The Air Around It

An architectural firm is creating a lush mountain lodging in China with so much greenery that it will actually clean the atmosphere

Related Expert

Bertrand Charrier

Architecture Design, Temporary Architecture Installations

Europe Yesterday

This Company Believes Insects Can Provide Biofuel To Power Our Future

A Polish group is testing out a new factory concept that can provide a source of renewable energy, and even serve space missions

Technology Yesterday

Music Venue Caters To Virtual Reality Events

Boiler Room has launched the first VR hub for content creators to capture special footage for the masses

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Automated Chessboard Lets You Play Against Anyone In The World

Square Off is an AI-powered board that can move the pieces on its own


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 25, 2016

Marketing Experts: Millennials And The Power Of Cool

'Good Is The New Cool' Authors Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones share their 7 principles for branding with a social impact

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Technology Yesterday

Contraband Recorder Helps Those In Need Capture Captive Conversations

Designer Marianna Mezhibovkaya created the device to help prison inmates capture crucial evidence of abuse

Advertising Yesterday

A Compelling Brand Purpose Is Never Born In The Boardroom

Strategist and Designer Anna-Rae Morris shares why she believes all brands exist for a reason, and how Snapchat has upended our behavior

Retail Yesterday

Creative Leadership Expert: Experiencing A Seismic Shift From Brand Loyalty To Interface Loyalty

Marc Shillum, founder of Chief Creative Office, explains why product designers must rethink the way they capture consumer attention

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Xs And Os Of Performance-Enhanced Sports

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats explain that we're only at the iceberg's tip of performance enhancement

Technology Yesterday

Microsoft’s New E-Paper Sticky Note Runs On Ambient Light

Researchers have developed the first e-ink display powered entirely by office bulbs

Sustainability Yesterday

Modern Home Created Entirely Out Of Modular Shipping Crates

A project in Ecuador used the ubiquitous material to design a spacious and industrial-chic house

Retail Yesterday

Retail Concept Offers Food Hall Inspired Space For Online Brands

The store will offer a lower cost way for internet entrepreneurs to try physical retailing

No search results found.