Azerbaijanis train in cyber defence
Hundreds of thousands of cyber attacks are registered each day, posing a real threat to critical infrastructure and having a disruptive effect on the world economy. Estimates suggest that cyber attacks cost the global economy hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
To address this new security threat, the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme is sponsoring a series of cyber defence training courses that aim to raise awareness of cyber threats and provide participants with the expertise and technical knowledge to help increase the resilience of their national networks.
The training is led by the Middle East Technical University (METU) Informatics Institute in Ankara.
Defending national information systems
During the first two weeks in September, network and system administrators from Azerbaijani ministries and the national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) participated in one such course. The hands-on training programme included both a theoretical session and practical laboratory exercises of core aspects of cyber security such as cryptography, cyber security monitoring, defending web applications, and conducting vulnerability assessments. Trainees also learned how to defend operating systems, user accounts and infrastructure. A penetration testing session and an exam allowed participants to apply and test their newly acquired expertise at the end of the course.
“The innovative and visionary knowledge we acquired here will surely contribute to our capabilities to defend the information systems of our country,” said Rza Orucov, an engineer from the Azerbaijani CERT.
Professor Nazife Baykal, Director of the METU Informatics Institute stressed the importance of cyber security and defence for national systems, and the necessity for international and information-sharing among different parties. This view was also echoed by the participants: “Cyber security is a field where sharing is most crucial. And this is exactly why we are here. To share our experiences and learn from each other, so that we may apply this knowledge in our own defence institutions and to be able to pass this knowledge to other official institutions in our country,” said Ferhad Rahimli, an engineer from the national CERT.
Given the global nature of cyber threats, creating international cooperation and information-sharing platforms is essential to defend against this non-traditional security challenge. Participants agreed that forming a common understanding is an important first step to share experiences effectively and to form stronger partnerships and defence mechanisms. The training also helped to forge practical cooperation between NATO and Azerbaijan.
“Cyber crimes and cyber attacks have globalised, and defence against such global, multi-actor crimes also has to be of global nature, bringing nations and states together,” said Ceyhun Musayev, a trainee from an Azerbaijani government institution.
Azerbaijan was the fifth country to follow this training. Previous courses have been held for participants from Afghanistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1, Moldova and Montenegro. As well as instructors from Turkey, experts from Georgia also led a session of the programme.1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.