Locked Shields 2023, the world’s largest cyber defence exercise, is set to take place in Tallinn, Estonia, from April 18-21, 2023. Hosted by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), the event will unite 3,000 participants worldwide to enhance their skills in defending national IT systems and critical infrastructure in real-time attacks. The exercise simulates the complexities of a large-scale cyber incident and will test the teams’ ability to execute strategic decisions and solve forensic, legal, and media challenges. With the latest technologies and relevant attack methods incorporated, Locked Shields 2023 will push the boundaries of cyber defence and reveal the best teams and strategies for protecting against modern-day threats.
Red Team vs Blue Team: The Ultimate Cybersecurity Showdown
The Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), a NATO-accredited knowledge hub, is at the forefront of cyber defence. Its interdisciplinary approach brings together international experts from the military, government, academia, and industry, representing 39 sponsoring and contributing nations. Among its many initiatives is Locked Shields, an exercise designed to enhance the skills of cyber security experts in defending national IT systems and critical infrastructure in real-time attacks. This exercise is unparalleled in its multifaceted and detailed approach, with 24 teams worldwide tasked with keeping critical infrastructure and IT systems operating under considerable time pressure. With over 5,500 virtual systems created for the exercise, Locked Shields offers a unique opportunity for teams to demonstrate their abilities in real-life situations. According to the director of the CCDCOE, Mart Noorma, “No other cyber defence exercise offers such a multifaceted and detailed experience as Locked Shields.”
Locked Shields is an annual cyber defence exercise that offers a sophisticated and realistic simulation of a large-scale cyber incident. Rapid Reaction Teams from different countries are mobilised during this event to aid a fictional nation in managing a massive cyber attack. The Blue Teams, composed of member nations of CCDCOE, are tasked with protecting the mock state’s information systems and critical infrastructure from thousands of attacks. They must also execute strategic decisions and solve forensic, legal, and media challenges. Locked Shields is designed to be realistic, incorporating the latest technologies and relevant attack methods.
With over 2000 cyber experts from 32 nations participating, Locked Shields 2022 was the largest and most complex yet. The teams were tested on their ability to defend national IT systems and critical infrastructure in real-time attacks while facing a barrage of strategic, forensic, legal, and media challenges. Ultimately, the Finland team was declared the winner, highlighting their remarkable abilities in handling incident reporting, strategic planning, and finding solutions. The competition revolved around a simulated ‘red team vs blue team’ situation, where Berylia, a fictional island in the Atlantic, was subjected to cyber-attacks targeting its military and civilian IT systems. Locked Shields is a trailblazer in cyber defence, providing insights into the most effective teams and techniques to safeguard against contemporary threats.
From Military to Private Sector: Locked Shields Puts Cybersecurity Skills to the Test
Hack The Box, an online cybersecurity training solutions provider, contributed to Locked Shields 2022. The exercise, which involved representatives from the Estonia Defence Forces and the country’s Ministry of Defence, also included various other organisations within cybersecurity. Hack The Box contributed to the exercise by creating content, including challenges presented during the event. According to the company’s CEO, Haris Pylarinos, Locked Shields is a unique experience for companies like Hack The Box as it focuses on all operational aspects that militaries would include, not just the technical side of cyber-attacks. Pylarinos notes that the exercise involves decision-making on responding to the crisis, which goes beyond hacking or defending systems.
Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) is a non-profit cybersecurity community exclusively catering to the financial services industry. With a global presence across 75 countries, FS-ISAC aims to bolster the financial sector’s cyber defence capabilities. According to Cameron Dicker, the director of global business resilience at FS-ISAC, exercises play a vital role in achieving this objective. The organisation actively participates in such events and conducts exercises to strengthen the industry’s resilience against cyber threats.
Locked Shields 2023: A Global Event with Implications for All
The forthcoming Locked Shields 2023 drill is expected to be a significant live-fire cyber defence exercise, involving more than 3,000 individuals from 38 countries, making it one of the biggest of its kind globally. The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) has participated in Locked Shields for the past two events and will continue to do so in 2023. As the coordinator of the exercise’s financial sector scenarios, FS-ISAC leverages its membership’s experience to design the financial systems used and the cyber-attacks conducted upon those systems. Additionally, FS-ISAC designs a strategic track for senior decision-makers, challenging them to grapple with societal unrest, interdependencies, and misinformation campaigns. Dicker, a spokesperson for FS-ISAC, highlights the tight interconnections between the financial domain, the military sector, and other critical security and economic priorities.
According to the FS-ISAC, global cyber defence requires cross-border, cross-sector, public-private defence capabilities. Military conflicts between two countries can impact the cyber-threat landscape globally, doing exercises like Locked Shields, a key tool in cyber defence. Locked Shields aims to build such capabilities, as cyber threats are complex and messy, with interdependencies. According to Dicker, a cybersecurity specialist, having diverse perspectives and experiences within a team is crucial for achieving cyber resilience. Teams with members with similar backgrounds and experiences may overlook certain issues that someone would identify with a contrasting viewpoint.
Locked Shields has proven unparalleled in its multifaceted and detailed approach, incorporating the latest technologies and relevant attack methods. By simulating the complexities of a large-scale cyber incident, Locked Shields pushes the boundaries of cyber defence, revealing the best teams and strategies for protecting against modern-day threats. With its focus on cross-border, cross-sector, and public-private defence capabilities, this event is a key tool in the global fight against cyber threats.