NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence provided essential support to Cyber Coalition 2020 exercise

This year, experts of the Centre contributed to exercise Cyber Coalition with new storylines and development of the scenario including a completely new geopolitical setting, and technical support. The Centre’s contribution addressed the technical, operational and legal challenges posed by a malicious attack on critical infrastructure.

“One of the big challenges for this year’s exercise was to create a completely new setting for the exercise,” Lieutenant Colonel Gry-Mona Nordli, staff officer of Education & Training at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence said. “We had been running with the old one for many years and as the cyber threat landscape changes, our policies and organisations develop, it was time for a new geopolitical setting. The new scenario is more in line with the aim of Cyber Coalition as well as other NATO exercises and it is a scenario we hope will be relevant for Cyber Coalition for several years.”

One of the cooperation partners in this year’s exercise was Estonian company Spaceit who is providing cloud-based infrastructure for satellite operations. “It was a valuable experience for us to provide space segment for the Cyber Coalition exercise for the very first time in the event’s history. We are seeing a growing interest towards cybersecurity in the space industry,” said Lauri Kimmel, Management Board Member of Spaceit. “As the whole ecosystem is developing rapidly, cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important in the space sector. The exercise was a good example how space communications related decision making could be affected by activities in the cyberspace”.

Cyber Coalition is NATO’s flagship annual cyber defence exercise, one of the largest in the world, testing and training cyber defenders from across the Alliance in their ability to defend NATO and national networks. The week-long exercise provides an experimental framework where decision making processes, technical and operational procedures, collaboration, and NATO and National Cyber Defence Capabilities can be tested.

The exercise has around 1,000 participants. 29 participating and observing Allies. Four participating Partner Nations: Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the European Union (EUMS and CERT-EU). Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the exercise took place virtually this year, with trainers and participants hosted through Estonia’s Cyber Security Training Centre (CR14).

CCDCOE has contributed with storylines to the Cyber Coalition exercise since 2010. In 2019, CCDCOE provided two storylines for the exercise: operational/technical and legal. The operational storyline provided by CCDCOE presented technical challenges that are aggravated by hybrid events i.e., simultaneous hostile activities which affect the normal way of life by disturbing the functioning of the power supply, while the legal storyline challenged commanders and legal advisers with the need to take into consideration legal aspects of cooperation within NATO and between the Allies.

For further information on Cyber Coalition, please contact the Public Affairs Office at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Belgium, Tel +32 6544 4502, E-mail [email protected].