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Open AccessArticle

Emulating and Evaluating Virtual Remote Laboratories for Cybersecurity

1
Department of Control and Communication Systems, Computer Science Engineering Faculty, Spanish National University for Distance Education (UNED), 28040 Madrid, Spain
2
Faculty of Law, San Pablo CEU University, 28003 Madrid, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
The extended manuscript has been an invitation of the special issue editors from: “Tobarra Ll., Robles-Gómez A., Pastor R., Hernández R., Duque A., Cano J. A Cybersecurity Experience with Cloud Virtual-Remote Laboratories. In Proceedings of 13th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing and Ambient Intelligence (UCAmI 2019), Toledo, Spain, 2–5 December 2019”, for selected papers from UCAmI 2019.
Sensors 2020, 20(11), 3011; https://doi.org/10.3390/s20113011
Received: 4 May 2020 / Revised: 21 May 2020 / Accepted: 23 May 2020 / Published: 26 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from UCAmI 2019)
Our society is nowadays evolving towards a digital era, due to the extensive use of computer technologies and their interconnection mechanisms, i.e., social networks, Internet resources, IoT services, etc. This way, new threats and vulnerabilities appear. Therefore, there is an urgent necessity of training students in the topic of cybersecurity, in which practical skills have to be acquired. In distance education, the inclusion of on-line resources for hands-on activities in its curricula is a key step in meeting that need. This work presents several contributions. First, the fundamentals of a virtual remote laboratory hosted in the cloud are detailed. This laboratory is a step forward since the laboratory combines both virtualization and cloud paradigms to dynamically create emulated environments. Second, this laboratory has also been integrated into the practical curricula of a cybersecurity subject, as an additional on-line resource. Third, the students’ traceability, in terms of their interactions with the laboratory, is also analyzed. Psychological TAM/UTAUT factors (perceived usefulness, estimated effort, social influence, attitude, ease of access) that may affect the intention of using the laboratory are analyzed. Fourth, the degree of satisfaction is analyzed with a great impact, since the mean values of these factors are most of them higher than 4 points out of 5. In addition to this, the students’ acceptance of the presented technology is exhaustively studied. Two structural equation models have been hypothesized and validated. Finally, the acceptance of the technology can be concluded as very good in order to be used in other Engineering contexts. In this sense, the calculated statistical values for the improved proposed model are within the expected ranges of reliability (X2 = 0.6, X2/DF = 0.3, GFI = 0.985, CIF = 0.985, RMSEA = 0) by considering the literature. View Full-Text
Keywords: emulated virtual scenarios; vulnerability analysis; practical skills; online resources; UTAUT/TAM factors; SEM validation emulated virtual scenarios; vulnerability analysis; practical skills; online resources; UTAUT/TAM factors; SEM validation
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Robles-Gómez, A.; Tobarra, L.; Pastor-Vargas, R.; Hernández, R.; Cano, J. Emulating and Evaluating Virtual Remote Laboratories for Cybersecurity. Sensors 2020, 20, 3011.

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