NATO cyber defence exercise prefigures the shape of things to comeMon 30 Apr, 2012 // Briony Williams
In March 2012, NATO carried out an innovative cyber-defence simulation exercise. The exercise featured experts from throughout the cyber-security industry. This particular exercise concentrated on communications systems. The headquarters of the exercise was based at CCDCOE (NATO’s Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence), in Tallinn, Estonia.
The participants were divided into one “Red” team and several “Blue” teams. The “Blue” teams represented fictitious small telecommunications companies under cyber-attack, and consisted of experts from government or military agencies and businesses. These teams were based at various locations throughout Europe. The “Red” team, based at Tallinn, represented the attackers, and was mainly composed of specialists from Finland and Estonia. The aim of the exercise was to enable the participants in the “Blue” teams to learn and test the skills involved in defending against a real cyber-attack.
The Blue teams’ main task was to defend and secure their networks by technical means. However, they were also expected to provide adequate information to the media, to report observations and detected incidents to CERT, to write management summaries in order to assess the impact of attacks on the business, and to respond to requests from clients and users.
The Red team’s main task was to provide equally heavy attacks against all Blue team networks. The Blue teams’ defensive efforts were scored on a predefined scale, in order to gauge the success of different defence strategies and tactics.
The exercise resulted from a growing realisation among NATO countries that the future shape of warfare will involve not merely traditional ordnance but also the much cheaper category of cyber-weapons and cyber-defence.
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