World´s most advanced cyber defence exercise kicks off in Tallinn

Today, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) kicked off Locked Shields 2024 in Tallinn, Estonia, marking the start of the world’s most advanced live-fire cyber defence exercise. This global event showcases strategic collaboration across more than 40 nations, bringing together experts in cyber security, digital forensics, legal affairs, strategic communication, and more. Together, they face real-time challenges to strengthen defences against sophisticated cyber threats.

“In cyber and at Locked Shields specifically, collaboration is our strongest defence,” stated Dr Mart Noorma, Director of NATO CCDCOE. “This exercise unites more than 4000 experts to test, strengthen, and innovate our cyber defence capabilities, reflecting real-world challenges. As the first day unfolds, participants engage in scenarios that require quick, cognitive thinking, adaptability to emerging technologies, and sustained communication, setting the stage for future advancements in the field,” he added.

Continuing the tradition of Locked Shields, the exercise puts the Blue Teams, acting as rapid reaction units, to the test as they defend the fictional state of Berylia from complex cyberattacks planned by the Red Team, which acts as the aggressor. Simulating intense crisis conditions, these teams apply national strategies and collaborate closely with international allies to forge effective responses.

In addition to technical challenges, participants also receive training in legal, strategic, and communication tactics, coordinating across command levels from tactical to strategic, preparing them for the multifaceted nature of modern cyber warfare. This holistic approach ensures that participants are well-prepared to handle all these complexities also in real life.

“Each year, Locked Shields evolves to incorporate the latest technological innovations and address current geopolitical tensions,” explained LtCol Urmet Tomp, the Exercise Director. “With AI and 5G now integral to our scenarios, participants directly engage with the forefront of cyber defence technology. Moreover, our partnership with Siemens this year has introduced advanced power grid systems into the exercise, further enhancing realism and training depth.”

This year also includes a Strategic Communications (StratCom) track, an initiative developed in collaboration with the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga, Latvia. This track enhances the exercise by integrating strategic communication—a vital element in contemporary warfare—into the training modules.

As Locked Shields 2024 unfolds, it’s setting new standards for cyber defence exercises worldwide. This exercise underscores the importance of teamwork in defending against cyber threats effectively. Each challenge we overcome boosts our current defences and helps us build vital strategies for the future.

Locked Shields has been organised in Tallinn by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) since 2010. And this year, has made possible in partnership with more than 25 industry and academia partners.

Photos from day 0: Flickr