Cybersecurity, Minecraft, education, careers, game-based learning

18 Oct 2023 Three Minecraft foxes and a rhino

In the digital world, there’s always a cyber threat headed your way. The scariest part? Most of the time, you don’t know you’re under attack at all. But by building up your cybersecurity skills, you can make sure your technology stays protected.

Minecraft Education is excited to announce Cyber Defender, a new game-based learning experience that’s appropriate for players of all skill levels, whether you’re new to Minecraft or you’ve been playing for years.

This tower-defense-style game challenges players to defend their base against wave after wave of enemies while allowing friendly visitors to enter. As players defend against different kinds of enemies across two levels, they’ll also learn important cybersecurity lessons that can protect them in the real world—and inspire potential careers.

Protect your base. Defend your digital domain.

You’re a Cyberknight, and you’ve been tasked with protecting your lord’s farm against attacks sent by his mortal enemy. Your efforts will allow the farm to grow berries in peace and sell them to friendly foxes and horses.

Before you know it, waves of hostiles are encroaching on your territory. You need to act fast! Start building gates and towers to counter their attacks and protect the farm.

This is the situation you’ll encounter in Cyber Defender for Minecraft Education. Your goal is to protect the farm’s berries so friendly animals can buy them. As you sell those berries, you’ll earn emeralds you can use to build and upgrade defensive gates and towers. And you’ll need them, because more trouble is on its way.

Screenshot of Minecraft mobs moving through the Cyber Defender world

Throughout the game, you’ll encounter many hostiles, each representing a different kind of digital attack. But they’re all after one thing: depleting your berry supply.

Here are just a few of the enemies you’ll face:

  • Zoglins represent malware. Watch out! Not all of them are what they seem. Just like malware, some attacks are more well-disguised than others.
  • Spiders represent ransomware. They cast their webs onto your berries and threaten to destroy them unless you pay a ransom of emeralds—not unlike ransomware in the real world.
  • Bees represent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, where an attacker floods a server with internet traffic. It’s a bit like a swarm of bees all stinging at once.

Construct different kinds of gates and towers to face specific threats. Just like a modern IT professional, you’ll need to decide where to allocate your resources and focus your defenses.

Making smart decisions about digital defense

Towers and gates each have different strengths and weaknesses. If you under-invest in your defenses, enemies will be able to attack the farm. But too many defenses mean the friendly animals that drive your economy can't get through. Just like a real-world cybersecurity expert, you’ll have to balance benefits against risks as you create your defenses.

If attackers make it all the way to your base, you’ll have a last-ditch chance to pull out your trusty sword and do battle in person. It’s similar to how IT professionals need to deal with breaches manually if attacks make it through automated defenses. But that’s a last resort.

In the real world, failing to detect a threat and dealing with the aftermath manually is a serious problem for organizations and IT teams. Your real goal is to create an effective, sustainable defense that makes manual interventions unnecessary.

Minecraft character confronting malware monsters

In addition to the money you gain from selling berries, you’ll earn points as you defeat enemies and welcome friendly animals into your base. You can use those points to upgrade the farm. Throughout the game, you’ll see it transform from a humble dwelling into a magnificent Minecraft estate!

To build on the challenge and increase your learning, Cyber Defender takes you through two unique levels across two distinct biomes. Each one will introduce new threats to ramp up the difficulty and teach new cybersecurity concepts.

  • Forest
    This is the beginner level. It keeps things simple so you can learn the basics of cybersecurity in a lush and relatively relaxed environment featuring just one avenue of attack.

*If you want to play a shorter version, refer to Forest Shortened.

  • Mesa
    The mesa is for people who’ve mastered cybersecurity concepts. It introduces a second lane of attackers and hides some pathways with majestic rock formations and arches.

Once you’ve made it through the onslaught, be sure to replay Cyber Defender and try different defense strategies to see if you can obtain the maximum number of diamonds.

Don’t worry if you aren’t an experienced Minecraft or Tower Defense player. We designed this game for everyone to enjoy, regardless of skill level. There are easier and more challenging levels for players in every skill bracket. If you’re a first-time Minecraft player, you can also walk through an optional tutorial to get you used to the game controls and concepts.

Play, craft, learn—and stay protected

This experience is all about having fun first and building cybersecurity learning onto the experience. Once you’ve explored the game, you should have a strong sense of some of the common cyber threats out there in the digital wild—and the concepts behind how security professionals protect against them.

If you’re intrigued or inspired by these cybersecurity concepts, we encourage you to explore more of Microsoft Learn’s cybersecurity content. It’s possible that with the right training, you could become a real-world cyber defender with a role in IT or cybersecurity.

Start your cybersecurity journey today!