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Cyberattacks and the methods by which the public and private sectors deter and counter them have occupied the headlines with increasing frequency in today’s tech-ladened world.
The ability to avert and respond to cyberattacks has become a critical government and business concern with the global cybersecurity market estimated to be worth $96bn this year.
Today more than ever, state-backed players and even governments themselves have been much more active when it comes to cyber. Critical infrastructure like financial institutions, power networks, healthcare providers and so on – have all fallen victim.
Russia, Iran and North Korea, among others, have been accused of unashamedly increasing their cyber activity with growing sophistication – although all have and continue to deny the accusations.
This evolving threat from ‘enemy’ states and criminal organisations alike continues to occupy the thoughts of those wanting to protect IT networks and much as those that rely on them. Speaking of this, NATO held its annual Locked Shields exercise. According to army-technology.com, the five-day live-fire drill, simulated an attack on the critical infrastructure of a fictional country, Berylia.
Involving as many as 4,000 virtualised systems and more than 2,500 attacks, the real-time defense exercise was designed to enable national cyber defenders to practice the protection of national IT systems and critical infrastructure under the intense pressure of a severe cyberattack.
“This year the exercise involved critical infrastructure that our entire modern lifestyle depends upon: power supply, clean water and emergency communications,” says Kadri Kütt, from the Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE). “The exercise trains the teams in how to protect unfamiliar environments and to make the right decisions with incomplete information.”
As well as teams from across member states, NATO and the EU, the private sector played a key role. Among others, Threod Systems provided their drones expertise, Ericsson assisted with 4G public safety networks for law enforcement and emergency, and Siemens assisted with software.
According to Kütt, the exercise “highlighted the growing need to enhance dialogue between technical experts and decision-makers”. “The systems running our critical infrastructure and military technologies are in constant development, we have to test and drill our resilience and defense on a regular basis” she says. “Our cyber defenders will never be ready, they have to keep learning and practicing cooperation with like-minded nations on a regular basis.”