NATO red teaming cyber exercise Crossed Swords gets underway in Tallinn

The Tallinn-based NATO CCDCOE cyberdefense exercise Crossed Swords in 2021.
The Tallinn-based NATO CCDCOE cyberdefense exercise Crossed Swords in 2021. Source: NATO CCDCOE

Crossed Swords, a technical red teaming cyber exercise organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE), kicked off in Tallinn on Monday. The 11th annual exercise will experiment with the integration of offensive cyberspace operations in a modern battlefield.

This year's exercise, held at Foundation CR14 in the heart of Tallinn, is bringing together some 120 participants from 24 countries, including allied and partner countries, according to a press release.

"The CCDCOE continues to provide a unique full-spectrum training session in the areas of cyber red teaming, penetration testing, digital forensics and situational awareness," said Carry Kangur, head of cyber exercises at the CCDCOE.

Red teaming is a technique used in cybersecurity and -defense in which a designated "red team" of experts or ethical hackers takes on the role of adversary and attacks existing security and defense systems, mirroring the conditions of a genuine attack, in order to identify weaknesses and provide feedback to improve defenses.

Crossed Swords uses realistic technologies and attack methods, and this year's exercise scenario is inspired by events that have been seen in a range of situations, including realistic threats to national security in the current environment; and exercised within the context of a fictional scenario.

In preparation for further integration of operational elements, this year's scenario is focusing on cooperation and the synchronization of efforts in an escalating conflict environment.

Crossed Swords 2022 is organized by the CCDCOE in partnership with the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), CR14, Clarified Security, Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech), Stamus Networks, Thales, Hunt & Hackett, Splunk and others.

The Tallinn-based NATO CCDCOE cyberdefense exercise Crossed Swords in 2021. Source: NATO CCDCOE

Established by the Ministry of Defense last January based on more than 11 years of military-grade cyber range experience in cybersecurity training, exercising, testing, validation and experimentation, the CR14 Foundation is a government-owned and -operated entity which provides cybersecurity-related research and development for domestic and international as well as private and public sector partners.

Cyberdefense is a core task of NATO's collective defense. Allies committed at the Madrid summit this June to further their efforts to enhance their cyberdefense capabilities as well as their cooperation with the industry and other key stakeholders such as the EU.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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