Organisations from various industries will now have access to a new custom-built facility which enables them to simulate a cyber attack and learn to practice defending their systems and data.

Based in London, the Cyber Lab gives business teams an opportunity to rehearse incident response, conduct digital forensic investigations, create 'offensive defences' and undertake security operations, as well as practice crisis media management in relation to cyber attacks, data breaches and hacking incidents.

The lab is run by UK-based IT training company, QA, and is marketed to cross-business teams and technology security staff, as well as being promoted as a way of providing an opportunity for "hands-on learning" in an increasingly important field for corporates.

A variety of off-the-shelf, tailored and bespoke courses are available to QA customers, while organisations are also being invited to a range of breakfast briefings to assess the facilities for themselves before committing to any offered programme.

Richard Beck, head of cyber security at QA, remarked: "Every day, every department in every organisation is at risk of a cyber attack. 

"This situation is exacerbated by an unprecedented shortage of teams with the right skills to help defend corporate data. We've invested over £150,000 in building this unique training facility which will allow our customers to learn in an environment like no other."

Retailers are increasingly being forced to place cybersecurity at the heart of their strategies – often in the wake of becoming victims of attacks themselves. Telecoms group TalkTalk is one example of a customer-facing company that has moved to address these issues internally after it saw more than 15,500 of its customers' bank account details compromised in a hacking incident in 2015.

At the start of last year, personalised greeting cards e-tailer, Moonpig, was alerted to a potential security vulnerability in its mobile apps and moved quickly to ensure no customer data was breached. Last October, Moonpig managing director, James Sturrock, told Essential Retail that his organisation does not treat security as a separate department, but instead runs intertwined security and commercial roadmaps.

"The mistake some businesses make around data security is that it's twin-tracked alongside a commercial strategy rather than as part of the commercial strategy," he explained.

QA's Beck says, in cyber warfare, "everyone has a role" irrespective of what their function is in the business – and this is mirrored in his company's training provision.

"Everyone has a role to play when it comes to defending the organisation, from the communications and marketing teams to the [penetration] testers," he noted.

Commenting on the new QA cyber lab, he added: "It embraces emotional as well as technical training to provide the closest experience an organisation can provide next to the real thing."

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