World's biggest international cyber defense exercise taking place in Tallinn
The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn is hosting international live-fire cyber defense exercise Locked Shields 2016. The exercise, which began on Monday, April 18 and is scheduled to last through Friday, includes 550 top computer security professionals from various countries.
“Locked Shields is unique in forcing the hands-on network defenders from 19 nations and NATO to work together and exchange information,” said Sven Sakkov, director of the CCD COE. “International cooperation is the key to successful cyber defense and this exercise is a perfect example of just that.”
Sakkov added that “The impact of the exercise … goes a lot further than technical skills. These computer emergency response teams, be they civilian or military, will better know whom to call when needing assistance in the future.”
Senior Fellow at the CCD COE Jaan Priisalu gave an overview of what the five-day exercise would involve. “The organizers have built identical virtual networks for all the defensive teams in this scenario-based exercise,” he said. “They play the role of the rapid reaction teams of the fictional country of Berylia, protecting a total of about 2,000 machines.”
Priisalu explained that Locked Shields uses realistic networks, technologies, and attack methods on par with real-world developments.
“We included smart phones and critical infrastructure components such as power grids in Locked Shields last year,” he said. “A central part of the scenario focused on drones and regaining control of our own systems after they have been broken into. In 2016, the networks include a variety of open platforms: Windows 8 and 10, Linux, and Apple iOS. The services the defense teams have to maintain range from websites, email and online shopping to industrial control systems.”
Locked Shields 2016 is slated to be the biggest and most advanced international live-fire cyber defense exercise in the world. The annual scenario-based real-time network defense exercise, which has been organized by the CCD COE since 2010, focuses on training security experts who protect national IT systems.
The CCD COE is a NATO-accredited knowledge hub, think tank, and training facility. The international military organization focuses on interdisciplinary applied research and development, as well as consultations, trainings, and exercises in the field of cyber security.
Locked Shields 2016 has been organized in cooperation with numerous partners, including the Estonian Defence Forces, the Finnish Defence Forces, the Swedish Defence University, the British Army, and the United States European Command.