If you’ve been following the National Cyber League (NCL) Player Ambassadors for a while you’ll have heard me discuss the importance of the Gym a lot, and hopefully you’ve heeded my advice to use the Gym as much as you can! I have definitely had people reach out to me after the competition ended saying that they should’ve listened when we said to do the Gym so here’s to hoping you all can learn from others’ mistakes.
If you’re new around here, first of all, welcome to your first season of NCL!
You’re probably wondering what in the world this so-called Gym I’m ranting about is and why you should be using it.
Think of the NCL Gym as your introduction to the games. The great part about the gym is that it’s designed in the exact same way that the actual games are played so you’ll know what to expect when the games begin.
How to Navigate in Cyber Skyline
The first time you log in to Cyber Skyline (the platform that hosts and creates the NCL games) can be a little intimidating, so if you’re completely new to this, let’s take a look at how to navigate this platform.
First things first, log in at cyberskyline.com and click in the top left where it says “Dashboard” if you weren’t taken there automatically when you logged in. If you’re already registered for the season, you should see a card that says “NCL Fall/Spring Year Gymnasium,” which should look like this.
Once you’ve played a few seasons, your Dashboard will be filled with cards from every season you’ve played. From here, you’ll click on the Gymnasium card and get to the “Overview” page, where you have three options. You can either check the leader board to see what your current rank is compared to everyone else playing the games, you can check your score report to see your stats for each individual category, or you can click the blue enter button to take a look at the challenges. Below is what you’ll see when you enter the Gym.
You’ll automatically be taken to the first challenge in the Open Source Intelligence (or OSINT) section. If you want to took at the rest of the challenges for OSINT, click on the three horizontal lines on the top of the left side bar to open up the list of challenges and choose the challenge you want to looks at.
If you want to navigate to the other challenge topic, click on where it says “Open Source Intelligence” at the top of the page to open up the list of categories and choose next one you want to look at.
Now that you know how to navigate the platform, let’s talk about why you should use the Gym, instead of skipping straight to the preseason game.
This is the time and place to mess up.
What’s cool about the Gym is that your score and accuracy don’t count in this portion, which is why it’s the best place to learn and make all of your mistakes. You’ll still have a limited number of attempts for all of the challenges, so don’t go wasting them by inputting random answers, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes and get answers wrong in the Gym.
There are a few differences to note between the Gym and the actual games.
One difference you’ll see between the Gym and the games is that the Gym offers solutions for the challenges if you’ve never seen them before and don’t know where to start. You can see an example of what the solution module looks like in the photo above.
When you click to reveal the solution, a PDF comes up which you can open in a new tab if it’s too small for you. These solutions tell you what tools you can use and some have certain command prompts you’ll need for some of the challenges. Not all of the solutions are completely straight forward, so you may need to do some trial and error and a bit more digging on Google, but they definitely give a good starting off point.
Another difference to note about the Gym is that, while all of the topics are in the Gym, not all of the types of challenges that you’ll see during the games are in the Gym. The goal of NCL is to learn and prepare for a scenario you’ll come across during your job, which sometimes means figuring something out that you weren’t expecting and haven’t seen before. If you had all of the solutions from the Gym before the games even started, NCL would not be as rich of a learning experience as it is in its current state.
Hopefully this helped you to see the importance of the NCL Gym and gave you some tips on how and why you should be using it. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @Jeana_Byte.