International Live-Fire Cyber Defence Exercise Locked Shields Kicks Off Today

The largest and most complex international live-fire cyber defence exercise in the world, Locked Shields 2019, organised by NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) started today. The exercise includes new critical infrastructure components and integrates the technical and strategic game, enabling participating nations to practise the entire chain of command in solving a large-scale cyber incident.

“Locked Shields exercise enables to practice solving cyber incidents in the most complex and intense playground possible. To build resilience against cyberattacks against our critical infrastructure, such as power supply or telecommunications, we need to understand both the technical and strategic challenges,” said Col Jaak Tarien, Director of the NATO-accredited cyber defence hub. “Locked Shields provides the participants the best training environment to get better in defending their nations networks,” added Col Tarien in opening the exercise.

According to Lauri Luht, Head of Cyber Exercises at CCDCOE, the exercise this year has reached to the higher level of complexity: “Considering the real-world cyber threats at national level, the training audience has a unique opportunity to practice the defence of a large scale power grid control system and power generating substations, 4G public safety network for law enforcement and emergency communication, PLC controlled water purification plant and maritime awareness tools.”

The annual real-time network defence exercise is a unique opportunity for national cyber defenders to practise protection of national IT systems and critical infrastructure under the pressure of a severe cyberattack. It is a Red team vs. Blue Team exercise, where the latter are formed by member nations of CCDCOE. The participating Blue Teams play the role of national cyber rapid reaction teams that are deployed to assist a fictional country in handling large-scale cyber incidents and all their multiple implications. In addition to maintaining nearly 4000 virtualised systems while experiencing more than 2500 attacks, the teams must be effective in reporting incidents, executing strategic decisions and solving forensic, legal and media challenges.

This year the exercise focuses on the protection of key systems of energy and communication that our entire modern lifestyle, both in the military and civilian sphere, depends upon. To keep up with technology advancements, Locked Shields focuses on realistic scenarios and cutting-edge technologies, relevant networks and attack methods.

Locked Shields 2019 is organised by CCDCOE in cooperation with the Estonian Defence Forces, the Finnish Defence Forces, the United States European Command, National Security Research Institute of the Republic of Korea and TalTech. Industry partners in the exercise include Siemens AG, Elisa, Cybernetica, Cisco, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, Arctic Security, Clarified Security, Iptron, Bytelife, STM, BHC Laboratory, Bolt and many others.

Photo gallery of the exercise Locked Shields.