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This thesis discusses challenges in IT security education, points out a gap between e-learning and practical education, and presents a work to fill the gap.

E-learning is a flexible and personalized alternative to traditional education. Nonetheless, existing e-learning systems for IT security education have difficulties in delivering hands-on experience because of the lack of proximity. Laboratory environments and practical exercises are indispensable instruction tools to IT security education, but security education in conventional computer laboratories poses particular prob-lems such as immobility as well as high creation and maintenance costs. Hence, there is a need to effectively transform security laboratories and practical exercises into e-learning forms.

In this thesis, we introduce the Tele-Lab IT-Security architecture that allows students not only to learn IT security principles, but also to gain hands-on security experience by exercises in an online laboratory environment. In this architecture, virtual machines are used to provide safe user work environments instead of real computers. Thus, traditional laboratory environments can be cloned onto the Internet by software, which increases accessibility to laboratory resources and greatly reduces investment and maintenance costs.

Under the Tele-Lab IT-Security framework, a set of technical solutions is also pro-posed to provide effective functionalities, reliability, security, and performance. The virtual machines with appropriate resource allocation, software installation, and system configurations are used to build lightweight security laboratories on a hosting computer. Reliability and availability of laboratory platforms are covered by a virtual machine management framework. This management framework provides necessary monitoring and administration services to detect and recover critical failures of virtual machines at run time. Considering the risk that virtual machines can be misused for compromising production networks, we present a security management solution to prevent the misuse of laboratory resources by security isolation at the system and network levels.

This work is an attempt to bridge the gap between e-learning/tele-teaching and prac-tical IT security education. It is not to substitute conventional teaching in laboratories but to add practical features to e-learning. This thesis demonstrates the possibility to implement hands-on security laboratories on the Internet reliably, securely, and economically.

downloadable thesis (pdf format)