NATO holds world’s biggest cyber-attack exercise

NATO is holding the world's biggest international live-fire cyber defence exercise this week.

The annual real-time network defence event enables cyber leaders across the world to practice the protection of national IT systems and critical infrastructure under the pressure of a high-level cyber-attack.

‘Locked Shields 2021,’ organised by NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), includes new cyber-physical systems and integrates technical and strategic elements, so participating nations can practice the entire chain of command in solving a large-scale incident.

“The need for such unique collaborations as Locked Shields has become more critical than ever – during the pandemic we have witnessed a growing trend of remote working, dependence on virtual systems and also a rise in the number and scope of cyber-attacks,” said Col Jaak Tarien, director of the NATO defence hub. “Locked Shields underlines the need for various experts to share expertise and work in close cooperation for the most effective cyber defence solutions.”

Carry Kangur, head of cyber exercises at CCDCOE, said that this year’s exercise is the most complex it’s ever been.

“Reflecting real world cyber threats, the exercise will address the protection of vital services and critical infrastructure that are fundamental for modern societies to operate,” said Kanghur. “These include critical information infrastructure, power and water supply and national defence systems with LS21 introducing several new systems with enhanced capabilities. For example, for the first time the Exercise involves a satellite mission control systems needed to provide real time Situational Awareness to aid military decision making.”

This year's scenario will be based on a fictional island country located in the northern Atlantic Ocean, Berylia, which is experiencing a deteriorating security situation.

Locked Shields is a Red team vs. Blue Team exercise, where the latter are formed by member nations of CCDCOE.

The participating Blue Teams play the role of national cyber Rapid Reaction Teams that are deployed to assist the fictional country in handling large-scale cyber incidents and all their multiple implications.

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