EDA participated in the Exercise ‘Locked Shields 2021’, the largest and most complex international live-fire cyber defence exercise organised from 13-16 April by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE).
Taking place every spring since 2010, the exercise puts this year a special focus on the need for cyber defenders and strategic decision-makers to understand the numerous interdependencies between national IT systems.
More than 2000 participants from 30 nations will have the possibility to test and train their entire chain of command in the event of a severe cyber incident, ranging from the strategic to the operational and tactical levels and involving both civilian and military capabilities. Reflecting real world cyber threats, the exercise deals with the protection of vital services and critical infrastructure that are fundamental for modern societies to operate, including critical information infrastructure, power and water supply and national defence systems. For the first time, the exercise also includes satellite mission control systems needed to provide real time situational awareness to facilitate military decision-making.
Based on a fictive but realistic scenario, ‘Locked Shields’ will see a Red Team acting against 22 Blue Teams which take on the role of national cyber–Rapid Reaction Teams that are deployed to assist a fictional country in handling a large-scale cyber incident with all its implications. The exercise involves cutting-edge technologies, complex networks, and diverse attack methods with some 5000 virtualised systems being subject to more than 4000 attacks.
In addition to securing complex IT systems, the participating Blue Teams must also be effective in reporting incidents, strategic decision making and solving forensic, legal, media and information operations challenges. In previous iterations of Locked Shields, the organisers of the exercise gathered in Tallinn, Estonia, with the participating Blue Teams joining remotely by secure online access from their home base. However, in 2021, the exercise differs in that the organisers will also be contributing remotely from their home nations.
After 2019, EDA will support the strategic track of the Locked Shields exercise for the second time (LS20 was cancelled due to Covid pandemic) by bringing in its expertise and experience gained from its own Comprehensive Cyber Senior decision-making (CC SDM) exercise which has taken place in different EDA Member States since 2014 and where the participating countries had the opportunity to test and evaluate national crisis mechanisms and procedures. In particular, EDA will support Locked Shields’ exercise control unit’s White Team to manage the different Blue Teams during the strategic track of the exercise. In addition to that, EDA developed and provided the specific air scenario inputs as part of the overall strategic scenario.
Locked Shields 2021 is organised by the Tallin-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in cooperation with NATO Communications and Information Agency, the Estonian Ministry of Defence, the Estonian Defence Forces, the European Defence Agency (EDA), Siemens, Ericsson, TalTech, CR14, Bittium, Clarified Security, Arctic Security, Cisco, Stamus Networks, SpaceIT, Sentinel, the Financial Service Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), US Defense Innovation Unit, Microsoft, Atech, Avibras, SUTD iTrust Singapore, The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, Space ISAC, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), STM, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, NATO M&S COE and PaloAlto networks.