TALLINN - The annual international cyber defense exercise Locked Shields, organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE), will start in Tallinn on Wednesday.
Over the course of two days, nearly 2,000 experts from 32 countries will practice the protection of critical IT systems and security infrastructures in the event of a major cyber attack. The teams will practice cooperation at the tactical and strategic level and the operation of the chain of command in a crisis situation, where, in addition to protecting numerous cyber-physical systems, regulatory issues are also resolved and information operations are responded to.
When writing the scenario of the exercise, the organizers have proceeded from the current security situation, where cyber security is playing an increasingly critical role in ensuring the continuity and security of society. The great aim of the exercise is to provide an opportunity to practice cooperation between both civilian and military units, as well as between the public and private sectors, because in the event of a large-scale cyber attack, these tactical and strategic level decision-makers must work together.
According to head of the exercise Carry Kangur, more than 2,000 experts from 32 countries will take part in the exercise in various roles this year. "This year, too, the focus of the exercise will be on cyber-physical systems, on which the functioning of vital services depends. The exercise will feature cyber warfare in a fictional country that is experiencing attacks on electricity and air defense systems, a water treatment plant, and, for the first time, the central bank's financial reserve and transaction management system. A stand-alone mobile platform based on 5G technology has also been introduced this year as part of critical infrastructure to practice for future technological challenges," Kangur said.
Col. Jaak Tarien, director of the NATO CCDCOE, said that the organization of Locked Shields is a great responsibility. "Locked Shields is the most important exercise of the year for the top cyber defense teams of the center's member states. Locked Shields is rightly expected to push the boundaries year after year and offer more and more new challenges. While our member states send their best to the exercise, we do our best not to disappoint," Tarien added.
The task of the participants is to repel in real time numerous cyber attacks against the systems important for the defense capabilities of the state that do not take place in isolation and have a wider societal as well as geopolitical impact. The training network has more than 5,500 virtual systems and more than 8,000 attacks carried out in real time. Teams will protect a variety of IT systems, write situation reports, solve strategic tasks and legal issues, conduct digital expert analysis, and respond to information operations and media inquiries.
In 2022, the NATO CCDCOE is organizing the exercise in cooperation with the largest circle of partners from across the world to date. In addition to the center's member states, NATO, the Estonian Ministry of Defense, the Estonian defense forces, the CR14 Foundation, Siemens, TalTech, Clarified Security and Arctic Security are contributing to the success of the exercise. Microsoft, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS ISAC), SpaceIT and Fortinet have also made very important contributions.