NATO CCDCOE brings improvement through practice 

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence contributes this week to the setup and organisation of NATO’s largest cyber exercise Cyber Coalition 2018 taking place in Tartu, Estonia. This year, the experts of the Centre contributed to the operational and legal part of the exercise scenario, adding respective challenges to the participating cyber experts across the Alliance.

“Participation in the setup of NATO’s Cyber Coalition exercise has become a tradition for the Centre. We aim to draw attention to the co-operative aspects of cyber defence and draw up assignments taking into account the latest and most relevant trends in cyberspace. This year the input of our experts challenges the training audience with legal and operational challenges,” said LtCol Franz Lantenhammer, Chief of Staff at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. “This is what the Centre does – we bring improvement through practice.”

The Centre contributes to the exercise with two storylines in the framework of the entire exercise. One focuses on legal aspects of a cyber operation, making participants take into consideration respective regulations for the NATO operations as well as the coordination mechanisms between the Allies and Partners. For example the role of GDPR regulations on cooperation within NATO, the Allies and their governmental agencies. The other NATO CCDCOE’s storyline tasked participants to handle incidents, where technical challenges are aggravated by simultaneous hostile activities affecting NATO operations and the normal way of life in the operation area, for example by disturbing the functioning of the railway systems and water supply. “Focusing on critical infrastructure security allowed participating teams to have a hands-on experience of possible real life effects on wider population in the operation area,” Lantenhammer said.

Cyber Coalition is NATO’s flagship annual cyber defence exercise testing and training cyber defenders from across the Alliance in their ability to defend NATO and national networks. CCDCOE has contributed with storylines to the exercise since 2012. In 2017, CCDCOE provided the technical part of the exercise scenario focusing on vulnerabilities related to malware on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and it was chosen as the best scenario by the participants.

NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) is a NATO-accredited cyber defence hub focusing on research, training and exercises. The international military organisation based in Estonia is a community of currently 21 nations providing a 360-degree look at cyber defence, with expertise in the areas of technology, strategy, operations and law. CCDCOE is home of the Tallinn Manual 2.0, the most comprehensive guide on how International Law applies to cyber operations. The Centre also organises the world’s largest and most complex international live-fire cyber defence exercise Locked Shields. CCDCOE hosts annually the International Conference on Cyber Conflict, a unique event bringing together key experts and decision-makers of the global cyber defence community.

The Centre is staffed and financed by member nations – to date Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Romania and many others are also on the path of joining the Centre.