International Cooperation in World’s Largest Cyber Exercise

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Coping with current cyber threats often requires a coordinated approach and international cooperation. Cyber drills are seen as a valuable tool for NATO cyber experts and national security services to learn how to protect their IT systems and critical infrastructure while forging closer ties between civilian and military experts, both of whom would be needed to counter cyber threats.

The world’s largest live-fire cyber exercise is an event taking place in Estonia, with more than 1,000 participants. A team of 40 cybersecurity experts led by the NATO Communications and Information Agency are competing in Locked Shields 2019.

Organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), the event uses a game-based approach, enabling participants to take on roles in fictional response teams whose goal is to assess a crisis situation and defend networks that have fallen victim to cyber-attacks, according to

The exercise is based on a simulation where a fictional island nation, Berylia, is holding national elections and is subject to coordinated cyber attacks that target water purification systems, electric power grids, and 4G public safety networks. The job of the NATO team is to help contain the damage and protect other networks from further attacks.

“While the aim of the tech game is to maintain the operation of various systems under intense pressure, the strategic part addresses the capability to understand national coordination mechanisms, law enforcement options and strategic communication,” CCDCOE explained.

The CCDCOE was established in 2008 and months later received full NATO accreditation and the status of International Military Organization within the alliance. The centre organised the 2019 drills with the Estonian Defense Forces, the Finnish Defense Forces, the US European Command, the National Security Research Institute of the Republic of Korea, and Tallinn’s University of Technology.