Every December, offensive cyber operations experts come together from all over the world for the annual Crossed Swords Exercise, which will run this year from 12-14 December. The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn, Estonia hosts this exercise with partners, which is a unique opportunity to train cyber specialists to successfully conduct full-spectrum offensive cyber operations. The exercise takes place in the fictitious setting in which the friendly island nation of Berylia is in dispute with the hostile southern island country of Crimsonia. The participants are not only cyber operators, but also digital forensics experts who have the opportunity to engage in threat-hunting and other training activities.
At the strategic-level, Crossed Swords trains the cyber command element (cyber headquarters), cyber and digital forensic specialist teams to address realistic cyber threats and opportunities. By training offensive cyber specialists, participating countries have the experience in conducting and managing offensive cyber operations and can serve as a deterrence mechanism against adversaries who may plan cyber campaigns against these countries.
In order to conduct such a highly technical exercise, the CCDCOE is fortunate to have access to the world-class cyber range at CR14 that has a new CEO, Silver Andre, at the helm. Preparing for this exercise has taken months of development and the fruits of this activity will be seen this week.