Business Imperatives

Cybersecurity Games Gain New and Informative Perspectives

Alien saucers, strange sightings and mini games (oh my)!  Toto, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.  In fact, this game begins in a Wisconsin forest. Team Cypher Forest presents a fresh way to build cybersecurity literacy skills through engaging cybersecurity games.

Cypher Forest’s submission took third place in the Secureworks Cybersecurity Literacy Challenge, an 8-week challenge hosted by Secureworks and the Devpost community and platform which awarded $30,000 in prizes to top contenders. The ask? For participants to use their imagination to build games that teach information security ideas in a fun and engaging way.

At Secureworks, we believe strong cybersecurity literacy is essential to protect yourself and your organization from attack, as we do our part to protect thousands of organizations every day with proven, award-winning technology. This Q&A is the third in a series of interviews that share some insights on our Cybersecurity Literacy Challenge winners, their projects, and what they hope other players can learn from their work.

The team behind Cypher Forest is CypherCon founder Michael Goetzman and Jatin Bhandari, developer and programmer. Judges were impressed by their game’s graphics and atmosphere, which drew inspiration from a number of books and movies. The game follows a young hacker named Six. When Six’s father disappears, leaving behind an old Mac OS computer, the player must solve puzzles in retro operating systems while a mysterious story unfolds.

Q. What is your background in game development and/or in cybersecurity?

Michael Goetzman: I’ve been in cybersecurity for over 20 years. I founded CypherCon, Wisconsin’s hacker conference that had 1,100 attendees this year. Jatin was brought onto the team for his amazing game development and programming background.

Q. What was your inspiration for the game?

Michael Goetzman and Jatin Bhandari: We initially planned to educate locals in Wisconsin on information security and hacker concepts by releasing our game at CypherCon. We officially released the game April 28, 2022, with much success. The players now  beyond Wisconsin to the greater internet. 

Q. What aspect of security do you hope your game will teach the public?

Michael Goetzman and Jatin Bhandari: We wanted to provide a variety of challenges. From simple cybersecurity education, ciphers, learning networking, how operating systems work, to complex cryptography. There are over 150 puzzles, really something for everyone, including fun mini games for those with no prior knowledge. 

Q. Any general comments?

Michael Goetzman and Jatin Bhandari: We plan to keep adding to the Cypher Forest universe and we anticipate releasing that expansion March 30-31, 2023, at the next CypherCon! This will be publicly available on our website for anyone who wants a challenge.

Check out the game here: Cypher Forest Operation Systems

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