UMaine Augusta opens state-of-the-art Maine Cyber Range

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) Students at University of Maine at Augusta are going to come back to some really cool technology when school starts this fall. The Maine Cyber Range officially opened Friday, and folks got to see first hand how to fight viruses.

"The Cyber Range is where you can take individuals into an environment that's safe to practice with," said Dr. Henry Felch, Director of the Maine Cyber Range. "The range that we see today actually contains live viruses, live malware, live ransomware, but it's all self-contained, so it can't get out. So we can practice."

This is rare. We're told there's only about a dozen facilities in the country with these capabilities.

"The importance of this facility is that it provides that hands-on experience that is lacking lots of times in education," said Felch. "Lots of times we have some virtual labs -- they're very static. The same events are going to occur every time in the same sequence, and it sort of gets stale after a while."

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, was given a first-hand look at what the new technology can do.

"There are all kinds of complex security issues involved, and to have this be one of the world's centers of training and research is a real blue ribbon for Maine," said King.

King is one of the nation's leading lawmakers on cybersecurity and is co-chairing a commission aimed at establishing a cyber-policy for the United States.

He says it's necessary for more people to be educated on cybersecurity as the threats grow bigger.

"This is not just, 'Oh, we're doing some training for cool jobs.' This is essential protection of our society."