Largest Cyber-Attack Exercise NATO Puts Systems Under Pressure
More than 2,000 cyber specialists were victims of thousands of cyber-attacks past week. This happened during the annual exercise Locked Shields, NATO's largest and most complex international cyber exercise. About 70 people participated on behalf of the Ministry of Defense.
The participants faced a series of cyber-attacks on the networks of critical civilian and military IT systems and infrastructure. 5,500 systems suffered more than 8,000 attacks in this scenario. This concerned practice systems, but in terms of reality they are comparable to the real systems of vital companies.
24 teams participated with an average of 50 experts per team from 32 countries. The teams had the role of rapid reaction cyber team. They had to help a fictional country in repelling a large-scale cyber-attack and its consequences. The attacks were carried out from the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Estonia.
Think of cyber-attacks with different methods on military, government, and communication networks, but also water purification systems and the electricity network. Such attacks lead to great public unrest. The purpose of this technical exercise was primarily to secure IT systems and test the operation of critical systems under great pressure. Yet it also provided an opportunity for countries to look at national coordination mechanisms and law enforcement options in crisis conditions.
Most of the Defense staff came from the Defense Cyber Security Center (DCSC), but also from the defense units. In addition, the DCSC supplied cyber specialists to the Benelux team operating from Luxembourg and to the CCDCOE training organization in Tallinn. The participants are divided into sub-teams with their own expertise. For example, there are teams that are involved in the analysis of malicious software, monitoring the systems and situational awareness.
According to Major Ed of the DCSC, Locked Shields 2022 was a special exercise:
“For the first time, Defense is training the entire cyber security chain with all operational commands: from operational tactical level to military strategic level. In this way we can bring mutual cooperation in cyber security to a higher level.”
Source: Ministry of Defence