Cyber Defence Centre contributing to NATO exercise underway in Tartu

Participants at the Cyber Coalition 2018 exercise.
Participants at the Cyber Coalition 2018 exercise. Source: NATO CCD COE

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) is contributing to the setup and organisation of NATO's largest cyber exercise, Cyber Coalition 2018, which is currently underway in Tartu.

This year, experts from the CCD COE have contributed to the operational and legal parts of the exercise scenario, adding respective challenges to the participating cyber experts across the alliance, according to a CCD COE press release.

"Participation in the setup of NATO's Cyber Coalition exercise has become a tradition for the centre," said NATO CCD COE Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Franz Lantenhammer. "We aim to draw attention to the cooperative aspects of cyber defence and draw up assignments taking into account the latest and most relevant trends in cyberspace. This year, the input of our experts is challenging the training audience with legal and operational challenges."

The CCD COE is contributing to this year's edition of the exercise, which is taking place in Tartu this week, with two storylines in the framework of the overall exercise. One focuses on the legal aspects of a cyber operation, making participants take into consideration respective regulations for NATO operations, such as the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as the coordination mechanisms between allies and partners.

The second storyline tasked participants with handling incidents in which technical challenges are aggravated by simultaneous hostile activities affecting NATO operations and daily life in the operation area, such as by disrupting the functioning of railway systems and water supply.

"Focusing on critical infrastructure security allowed participating teams to have a hands-on experience with possible real-life effects on the broader population in the operation area," Lantenhammer said.

Cyber Coalition is NATO's flagship annual cyber defence exercise testing and training cyber defenders from throughout the alliance in their ability to defend NATO and national networks. Since 2012, the CCD COE has contributed to the exercise with storylines of its own. In 2017, the CCD COE contributed the technical part of an exercise scenario focusing on malware-related vulnerabilities on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) which was chosen by exercise participants as the best scenario.

21 member states and growing

The CCD COE is a NATO-accredited cyber defence hub focusing on research, training and exercises. The Estonian-based international military organisation, which also organises Locked Shields, the world's largest and most complex international live-fire cyber defence exercise, is a community of currently 21 nations which provides a 360-degree look at cyber defence, with expertise in the areas of technology, strategy, operations and law. The CCD COE is also the home of the Tallinn Manual 2.0, the most comprehensive guide on how international law applies to cyber operations.

The centre is staffed and financed by its member states, which to date include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the US.

Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Japan, Norway, and Romania are among other countries also on the path to joining the CCD COE.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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