Slovakia Wins Locked Shields 2016 Ahead of NATO and Finland

Tallinn, April 22, 2016 – The team from Slovakia won Locked Shields 2016, the world’s largest and most advanced international live-fire cyber defence exercise. They were closely followed by the NCIRC team from NATO and Finland.

Slovakia also scored the highest in the media challenges of the exercise. Germany came out on top of the forensic injects, while NCIRC did the best in providing legal analysis. Czech Republic won scenario challenges.

“To win Locked Shields, the team had to put an effort into every category of the game. When under intense pressure, network security professionals have to monitor the environment, consider social, political and legal consequences as well as keep ahead of the constant technical challenges,” explains IT security expert Thomas Svensson, inject master of Locked Shields 2016.

“The winning team was in the top 5 of the legal, media and forensic challenges at all times as well,” Svensson explains. “This can only happen when teams have worked hard in preparation – the game starts with familiarizing yourself with the network and setting up an effective division of labour well before the active phase of the exercise.”

“This year Locked Shields explored the security of cyber physical systems because they have a direct impact to our life and environment,” Dr Rain Ottis, Locked Shields 2016 scenario master and director of the cyber security graduate program at Tallinn University of Technology says.

“Physical devices or systems that are controlled by computers include drones, industrial control systems that regulate production processes, air conditioning and a variety of other infrastructure services,” Dr Ottis adds, highlighting that cyber defenders have to be proficient in a wide array of technologies and disciplines to keep up with developing challenges.

The real-time network defence exercise, hosted by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, ended today. It focused on training cyber security experts who protect information technology systems on a daily basis.

Locked Shields 2016 is the biggest and most advanced international live-fire cyber defence exercise in the world. Over 550 people and a total of 26 nations are involved in Locked Shields 2016. 20 Blue Teams representing 19 nations and NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) were tasked to maintain the networks and services of a fictional country, Berylia under intense pressure. This includes handling and reporting incidents, solving forensic challenges as well as responding to legal, media and scenario injects.

While the organizers of the exercise gathered in Tallinn, Estonia, the participating Blue Teams had online access to the exercise networks and typically worked from their home countries.  The virtualized Blue Team networks were custom-built and included a variety of services and platforms. For example, the Blue Teams had to maintain a number of servers, online services and an industrial control system. Realistic technologies, networks and attack methods formed the backbone of Locked Shields 2016 to stay abreast with market developments.

Locked Shields 2016 was organised in cooperation with the Estonian Defence Forces, the Finnish Defence Forces, the Swedish Defence College, the British Army, the United States European Command, Tallinn University of Technology and numerous other partners.

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD COE) is a NATO-accredited knowledge hub, think-tank and training facility. The international military organisation focuses on interdisciplinary applied research and development, as well as consultations, trainings and exercises in the field of cyber security. The Centre’s mission is to enhance capability, cooperation and information-sharing between NATO, Allies and partners in cyber defence.

Membership of the Centre is open to all Allies. Currently, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States have signed on as Sponsoring Nations of the Centre. Austria and Finland have become Contributing Participants – the status available for non-NATO nations.

Photos from the exercise are available to use for free: (photo credit: Hans-Toomas Saarest, Estonian Defence Forces).