2022 Major Announcements

Expanding and improving our offerings, creating a student-focused training company.

By Joshua Beaman
Founder & Lead Trainer at SBT

I am absolutely thrilled to announce ELEVEN major announcements (plus a few smaller ones!) that are happening this month regarding our training offerings, Blue Team Labs Online, and internal improvements and developments focused on providing the best possible experience for students.

These updates will be released throughout February, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback! (Oh, don’t forget to check out the Closing Note for a surprise!).

State-of-the-art Learning Platform (End of Feb)

Notably the biggest announcement is our brand new platform, and yes – there’s a dark mode. We outgrew our original website a long time ago, so our talented and driven Development team have been building out our modern, scalable, and user-centric learning platform, designed to bring all aspects of SBT into one place. Introducing, SBT eLearning.

Some of the most notable features of the new platform include:

  • Improved modern look with a focus on user experience and responsiveness
  • Training and labs are now together on one platform
  • All resources for a certification are grouped on one page using navigation tabs to move between the course, training labs, practical exam, student forum, and store
  • Certification exam attempts can be viewed on the platform, providing a better end-to-end exam experience
  • Support panel to get immediate answers, raise tickets, or start a live chat with support
  • PDF certificates for all courses and certifications are now automatically generated and available for immediate download (including i2, BTJA, BTL1, BTL2)
  • Custom Learning Management System (LMS) with the ability to return to your last lesson, enhanced domain navigation, improved progress bars, ability to bookmark lessons (very useful for exams!), and more
  • Training access and exam access are now separated. All exam vouchers are valid for 12 months from purchase
  • And much more!
Unfortunately, there’s one downside to the move. Despite our best efforts, we’re not able to transfer over course completion % from our old website to the new one. For certifications, this doesn’t restrict your ability to take the exam, and is purely to help you understand what content you have missing.

Improved Team Leader Functionality (End of Feb)

We understand that team leaders are busy, but the ability to track team members through training is extremely valuable. While we had some existing functionality that allowed team leaders to track student progress, it was limited and lacked depth. Our new Team Leader Dashboard allows the following:

  • Create unlimited in-house teams, splitting up students by seniority, function, cohort, or however you see fit
  • As many Team Leaders as you need. Add Auditors, Training Leads, L&D Analysts, and Managers
  • Assigned Account Manager to support student’s studies and answer any questions
  • Assign training licenses to team members whenever you want them to start
  • Track student’s course and lab statistics to monitor their training progress
  • Plus more functionality coming soon! (and we’re very open to feedback)

Free Mental Health in Cybersecurity Course (End of Feb)

We already covered mental health in BTL1, a lesson that was hugely popular with our students, but we don’t want this topic to be hidden behind a paywall when it can affect any of us.

We are working again with psychiatrist Ryan K Louie, MD, PhD and are finalising a free course where we discuss mental health problems that are present in our industry (and elsewhere) including professional burnout, imposter syndrome, and other mental conditions such as alert fatigue. The idea behind this course is to assist with spotting the signs, ways to help yourself, and where to get support. What we do is hard, so make sure to look after yourself and others.

You can log into your SBT eLearning account (or register), and enrol in the course for free once it is released!

New BTL1 Certification Exam Format (End of Feb)

We’ve been reviewing the BTL1 exam since it launched in 2020 to highlight areas for improvement and disparities from the training course. With a great first-time pass rate of around 60%, and a second-time pass rate of 95%, we are very happy with our practical approach to skills and knowledge assessment within BTL1.

The major pain points identified were manual marking, feedback time, and rare but impactful technical issues. To address this and provide students with a better overall exam experience, we have altered the exam format to move away from a written report in favour of task-based questions surrounding a new incident response scenario where students must investigate an intrusion using the skills they gained throughout the course. 

The revised exam is more closely scoped to key elements of the course, but is still designed to be challenging and require students to investigate a multi-system incident across all phases of the ATT&CK Framework, gather indicators of compromise, and uncover all actions taken by the adversary. Students will now have up to 24-hours of exam lab access as opposed to the previous 12 hours, and their exam results and feedback will be displayed immediately after submitting all their answers in the lab client – no more nervously waiting for up to 30 days! This also involves bringing the exam in-house under our own cloud infrastructure, resulting in quicker technical issue resolutions/investigations, improved performance, enhanced exam integrity systems, and better tracking for potential improvement areas going forward.

We’re currently beta-testing this new delivery approach with both uncertified and certified BTL1 students to ensure it is a beneficial change, and take any suggestions before releasing it. Students that have already attempted the current exam will not be moved to the new exam, as provided feedback will not be useful for their resit. Don’t worry, nothing’s changing with our physical rewards (more on that in a moment). 

BTL2 Certification Exam Releasing (End of Feb)

The practical exam for our advanced security operations course is almost ready to go live, allowing students to earn the BTL2 certification, and receive their physical rewards. This exam is up to 3-days long and deploys students into an advanced intrusion scenario, where attention to detail is key while investigating a compromised network. Students must produce an incident report based on their findings. Requiring skills across all of the four domains will reinforce the training material and create advanced technical defenders that can perform the following tasks:

  • Threat hunt across a fleet of systems, over the network, and locally.
  • Perform static and dynamic analysis on malware samples to retrieve indicators and understand behaviour.
  • Identify and triage vulnerabilities with a focus on risk-based prioritization.
  • Perform analysis on systems by utilizing and creating SIEM dashboards, search queries, and apps.
While moving BTL2 content over to SBT eLearning, we have made various fixes, added a couple new lessons, and ensured that the course content is aligned to the exam scenario to ensure the best possible exam experience.

Dedicated Student Support Team (Now)

We care about our students, and we want you all to have a great experience whilst learning with SBT. Being a small team with thousands of new students, it was hard for us to provide a personal experience to each and every student, and we’re sorry for that.

This is why we are growing a brand new team, focused on supporting corporate clients and individual students alike. From pre-sale queries to technical issues, these team members will ensure that students get the help they need, as soon as possible. Part of forming this team included the adoption of new technology to centralise support requests, allowing them to be triaged and assigned to the relevant internal teams if required. This has been deployed since December, and since then we have seen dramatic improvements in our time-to-closure for corporate enquiries, as well as student and pre-student queries.

A more visible element of this change is the support panel available in our new platform, which allows immediate self-resolution through our detailed Wiki/FAQ, support ticket submission, and live chat functionality (although the latter will be rolled out in the near future as we expand this team). As a result of expanding our development, infrastructure, and customer service teams, we’re sure we can provide fast and quality resolutions going forward.

Security Blue Team Blog, Tech & Security (End of Feb)

We’re passionate about technology, and how we can utilise it to enhance online learning for our students. We have created a blog which will host posts created by us about our cutting-edge technology, security research, open-source tool development, and much more!

We’ll share a link to our blog when this post is edited and live! 

Revamped 'Introduction To' Courses and 'Blue Team Junior Analyst' Certificate (End of Feb)

Thousands of students have taken our i2 courses, and while feedback has been very positive given the cheap price and practical nature, we’ve wanted to improve these courses for a while. Do you know what the best part is? Students have lifetime access, so everyone benefits from this change!

Towards the end of February we’re re-releasing our i2 courses with some new lessons, better structured content, and have removed some issues that students experienced. Plus, the Blue Team Junior Analyst (BTJA) certificate students receive after competing all six courses is now generated automatically, no more waiting up to 30-days for manual verification.

Blue Team Labs Online, Offensive Catalogue Coming Soon (Post-Feb)

We’re adding a catalogue of offensive labs, challenges, pathways, and achievements to our gamified skills assessment platform, BTLO. After many sleepless nights of deciding how to introduce this new content without disrupting our blue team players, we decided to deploy a sister application to BTLO, named RTLO.

Both halves of the platform are accessible with the same account, but offer separate leaderboards to ensure competitiveness remains for security professionals that hone their skills primarily in red or blue practices. However, some elements are shared, such as profiles – allowing students to show off their offensive or defensive badges and titles on both platforms. With this change comes three new pathways:

  • Web App Testing
  • Network Pen Testing
  • Exploit Development

We also have a ton of usability features lined up for BTLO/RTLO, such as; searching for content based on tools, return to latest lab/challenge accessed, filter for in-progress content, optional dedicated pathways with content that increases in difficulty, and more members in our content team to help produce more quality content, and larger labs. We are also working on training/guided labs, and a corporate offering that we plan to release this year.

Oh, and don’t worry – our price isn’t changing to gain access to RTLO. One subscription will cover both sides of the platform!

Blue Team Labs Online Event, Operation Chimera (Post-Feb)

Op Chimera is our community-wide BTLO event happening in the near future. Unlike the typical competitive nature of BTLO, during this event players will form groups or “incident response teams” and work together to tackle labs and challenges all originating from a single large-scale incident. With content aimed at all different skill levels, this event is a great opportunity for defenders to demonstrate their abilities and earn in-platform rewards, digital badges, and limited edition physical challenge coins.

Physical Rewards Logistics Improvements (Now)

We understand that you work hard to pass our certifications, so we need to work harder to ensure you get your well-deserved rewards as soon as possible.

Since BTL1, we have experienced delivery times primarily between 2 to 6 months, based on demand, availability of staff, materials, and courier time-to-deliver (plus failed deliveries and returns). We’ve reviewed all parts of our physical rewards program, from managing certified students to alternate couriers. Our aim for 2022 is to reduce the time-to-deliver from 155 days to under 60.

Alongside moving to ‘Generation 2’ challenge coins, recently delays were caused because we’ve just partnered with another company to provide much higher quality card certificates, ensuring they look incredible wherever you choose to display it.

Minor Announcements

We’re using this section to chuck any other announcements that we don’t deem to be ‘major’ for the majority of our students.

  • Clients in government, military, or law enforcement within NATO Member States will receive an additional 10% discount on top of standard corporate pricing.
  • We are working with industry experts on new introductory courses, advanced courses, and additional certifications. More details will be shared soon, but we’re keeping this hush hush!
  • We plan to create a private job board within SBT for BTL1/2/3 certified students, providing more value and helping you find your next role.

Closing Note

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our updates coming this month, and that you’re as excited for 2022 as we are! We have lots more plans that we’ll announce when they’re ready, but for now, stay safe and happy defending!

A big thank you to all of my team that have put in an incredible amount of work leading up to this release. Onwards and upwards.

Oh, and because you’re so dedicated and have read this far, here’s a 🎟️ 10% discount voucher 🎟️ valid for the whole of February – ‘NewYearNewSkills’ (feel free to share it with whoever you want!) *only valid on new purchases, excludes BTLO

Joshua, CEO and Lead Trainer – 
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