Locked Shields - NATO’s 2023 Cyber Exercise

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) recently hosted the 2023 edition of the annual Locked Shields cyber defense exercise at Talinn in Estonia.

It took place between 18 - 21st April 2023 and involved protecting computer systems from real-time attacks and simulating tactical and strategic decisions in critical situations.

At the previous year’s event there were around 2,000 participants represented 32 countries, but at the 2023 Locked Shields exercise there were over 3,000 participants from 38 countries, including, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Allies and partners.

The increase in participants is likely the result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, which has also has emphasised cybers importance in resilience and response capabilities.

This event has been at the CCDCOE for more than the last ten years and  the exercise tests the participants’ capability to defend systems against attacks, their use of incident reporting, and it helps to solve challenges related to forensics, the media, and legal issues.

This exercise models large-scale cyber incident and tests the teams’ ability to execute strategic decisions and solve forensic, legal, and media challenges.

With the latest technologies and relevant attack methods incorporated, Locked Shields 2023 pushed the boundaries of cyber defence and reveal the best teams and strategies for protecting against modern-day threats.

At Locked Shields, attacking Red Teams compete against defending Blue Teams, with the Blue Team being tasked to defend a made-up country’s information systems and critical infrastructure, including energy and banking systems, from large-scale attacks. The Blue teams represent national cyber Rapid Reaction Teams, deployed to assist a fictional country under large-scale cyber attacks.

Their task is to protect the mock state’s information systems and critical infrastructure from thousands of attacks, make management decisions in a crisis situation, and ensure that decisions are well considered.

“This past year has shown us how important strength in cyber defense is,” said Estonian Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur. “Cyber warfare may not be as visible as kinetic warfare, but it is integrated into wartime activities. Ukraine has strong digital competences, and that has meant that their state can keep delivering essential digital services even in wartime.

“Cyber competence grows through investments, but not only monetary ones, exercises like these, where allies with shared values also exchange know-how and train together, are key to continued resilience.”

NATO countries are often targeted by state-sponsored cyber espionage groups and governments are aware that there is always the risk that hackers, including less sophisticated threat actors, could try to launch disruptive or destructive attacks on critical infrastructure.

NATO:    CCDCOE:   Current Affairs:     Security Week:     Viruss.EU    Frontier India:   Exampur:    AgenParl

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