C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

Locked Shields 2018 practises for large-scale cyber incident

29 April 2018
The control room for Locked Shields 2018. Source: NATO CCDCOE/Arno Mikkor

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence’s (CCDCOE’s) Locked Shields 2018 cyber defence exercise, which took place in late April, was the largest such event on numerous levels, the event’s organisers have told Jane’s .

A spokesperson for CCDCOE said it was the largest live-fire cyber defence exercise that the centre has hosted, in terms of the number of nations taking part, the number of participants, and the critical infrastructure involved.

Locked Shields 2018 comprised more than 1,000 cyber experts from 30 states. It was a ‘Red team’ versus ‘Blue team’ exercise, with 22 Blue Teams placed in the role of national rapid reaction teams that were deployed to help a fictional country deal with a large-scale cyber incident. The Blue Teams included teams from NATO and the European Union, and were made up mainly of national military and civilian cyber security experts.

Locked Shields involved about 4,000 virtual systems and over 2,500 attacks in total. As well as managing complex IT systems, the CCDCOE said the Blue Teams had to be effective in reporting incidents; executing strategic decisions; and solving forensic, media, and legal challenges.

The exercise focused on protecting key energy and communication systems “that our entire modern lifestyle, both in the military and civilian sphere, depend upon”, the CCDCOE said in a statement. “To stay abreast of market developments, Locked Shields focuses on cutting-edge technologies, scenarios, networks, and attack methods,” it added.

This year’s event highlighted a growing need to boost dialogue between technical experts, civil and military participants, and those on the decision-making level, the CCDCOE said. The technical and strategic sides were integrated, “enabling participating nations to practise the entire chain of command in the event of a severe cyber incident involving both civilian and military players”, the centre stated.

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