The Largest International Technical Cyber Defence Exercise Launched This Week

The largest and most complex international technical network defence exercise Locked Shields 2017 is organized this week by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Around 800 participants from 25 nations are involved in the exercise this year.

“The level of complexity of Locked Shields has reached a new level this year to match also the growing expertise of participating IT network defenders from 19 nations and NATO. In addition to several new technological elements in parallel to the exercise a strategic track is organised for policy officers and legal advisors,” says Sven Sakkov, director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a knowledge hub and training centre organising Locked Shields annually. “It has also become evident that the success in this exercise is determined by smooth coordination of different experts in a team. This goes to prove that the power of dialogue and cooperation is the key to successful cyber defence both in the daily work of national computer emergency teams and like-minded nations and international organisations.”

“Taking into consideration current key trends in cyber security we are introducing even more specialised systems to the exercise. This enables us to prepare cyber security experts to protect even better vital networks and systems that they are not working with on a regular basis,” highlights Aare Reintam, Technical Exercise Director at NATO CCD COE.

“In the course of the years Locked Shields has become a benchmark of live-fire technical exercises for our partners and other like-minded nations, the model of this exercise has been used in several countries,” notes Reintam.

The annual scenario-based real-time network defence exercise focuses on training the security experts who protect national IT systems on a daily basis. In 2017 the Blue Teams are tasked to maintain the services and networks of a military air base of the fictional country, which, according to the exercise scenario, will experience severe attacks on its electric power grid system, drones, military command and control systems and other operational infrastructure.

In addition to ordinary business IT environment, several specialised IT systems are introduced to Locked Shields in 2017, reflecting the current threat landscape. For example the following specialised systems will be included to the exercise – a large scale SCADA system controlling the power grid, an AirC2 system used for planning military air operations, military surveillance drones and Programmable Logic Controllers controlling the fuel supply of the air base.

Locked Shields exercise has been organised by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence since 2010. Every year, teams are put under intense pressure to maintain the networks and services of a fictional country. This includes handling and reporting incidents, solving forensic challenges, and responding to legal and strategic communications and scenario injects. To stay abreast of market developments, Locked Shields focuses on realistic and cutting-edge technologies, networks and attack methods.

Locked Shields 2017 is organised in cooperation with the Estonian Defence Forces, the Finnish Defence Forces, the Swedish Defence University, the British Joint Army, the United States European Command, Air Operations COE and Tallinn University of Technology.

Industry partners in the exercise include Siemens AG, Threod Systems, Cyber Test Systems, Clarified Security, Iptron, Synopsys, Bytelife, BHC Laboratory,, GuardTime and numerous others.

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD COE) is a community of nations providing a 360-degree look at cyber defence, with expertise in the areas of technology, strategy, operations and law. The heart of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is a diverse group of international experts from military, government and industry backgrounds.

The Centre is staffed and financed by its sponsoring nations and contributing participants. As of October 2016, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States are signed on as Sponsoring Nations of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Austria and Finland have become Contributing Participants, Sweden has applied for membership in the same format, a status eligible for non-NATO countries.


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