ACC Educators Engage in Nat’l Cybersecurity Role-Playing Opportunity

Renard Spratling, Debra McCusker

Above, Renard Spratling, Debra McCusker

(October 6, 2021) – Two Alamance Community College IT educators were invited to role-play in a simulated ransomware attack by virtue of ACC’s designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) and its continued affiliation with the CAE Community.

The College’s Information Technology (IT) department head, Renard Spratling, and Cybersecurity instructor Debra McCusker did not have to use their imaginations on October 1 when they participated as role players in a four-hour realistic simulation of a ransomware attack on a healthcare industry firm. It was up to them and fellow IT players around the U.S. to navigate the twists and turns of the cyber incident as well as the chain reactions that would follow.

“For me, this experience offered a fresh perspective on cybersecurity, emphasizing the need for engagement at all levels of an organization, not just from IT,” said McCusker.

The National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE), in conjunction with Norwich University Applied Research Institute (NUARI), organized this opportunity to allow faculty at CAE schools—such as Alamance Community College–to strengthen their understanding of cybersecurity policy issues and provide context on the roles of the many employees throughout an organization. The event was held 100% online using Zoom and a unique collaboration software tool developed by NUARI.

A less complicated version of the scenario is being prepared for CAE student participation. The organizers want strong student registration so that ten or more “corporate teams” can role-play in parallel. Data collected from all events is being used to influence and improve cyber response education.

Students in the IT Systems Security (Cybersecurity) program of study at ACC are invited to participate in a cyber event on November 5. Students should register now ( to take advantage of this learning experience. Participants will be asked to attend one of two pre-event training sessions to be held on October 27 or to watch the training recording.