NATO's cyber defenders win Locked Shields exercise

The NATO Blue Team of cyber defenders has won the largest international ‘live-fire' cyber defence exercise - Locked Shields 2015 – competing against defensive teams from 16 nations – with Estonia and Poland taking second and third place respectively.

The team comprised staff from the NCI Agency's Directorate of Infrastructure Services and Legal; they had to set up a virtual network, secure it and then defend it from relentless and very skilful Red Team attacks over a two-day period. 

NATO also collected the ‘special scenario' prize when its Blue Team generated and deployed a Rapid Reaction Team (RRT) in support of the fictional nation ‘Berylia'. Imitating the way a real NATO RRT would be generated, the team included core members of the Cyber Security ServiceLine and other Agency staffs to provide specialist knowledge essential to the mission. Importantly, the Exercise also used the RRT equipment recently provided by the NCIRC Full Operating Capability Project.

“The key to winning Locked Shields is keeping your networks within the exercise open and running,” explained computer security expert Jaan Priisalu, one of the exercise architects and a senior fellow at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.

“The exercise starts long before our gamenet opens. Before the active phase, a team has to figure out what they should expect as well as their plan and division of labour in defending their systems,” Priisalu emphasised. “It is as important that technology specialists are able to talk about what you are doing, be it to the media, public or just your management.”

 In an email to SC, Ian West, Chief Cyber Security Service Line described the win as a “Superb achievement,” saying that it confirmed that NATOs technology, concepts and most importantly its cyber-defenders, are world-class.