Largest ever NATO cyber defence exercise gets underway

  • 18 Nov. 2014 -
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  • Last updated: 21 Nov. 2014 11:34

NATO launched its largest ever multinational cyber defence exercise, “Cyber Coalition 2014” on Tuesday (18 November). The three-day training event will test the Alliance’s ability to defend its networks from the various challenges that exist when operating in the contested cyber domain. “This exercise will test our systems to make sure that NATO keeps pace with that evolving threat and that the skills and expertise of our cyber specialists are fully up to the task,” said Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. “Among the priorities highlighted in the Enhanced NATO Policy on Cyber Defence, endorsed at the Wales Summit, is training and exercises.”

The exercise involves over 600 technical, government and cyber experts operating from dozens of locations from across the Alliance and partner nations. For the first time, representatives from academia and industry have been invited as observers. One of the cyber tools that was trialed was the Cyber Information and Incident Coordination System, or CIICS. CIICS was developed by the Canadian company ADGA-RHEA working for NATO’s Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) to help Allies exchange critical cyber information and promote a collective defence approach to cyber security.

The aim of the exercise is to test the rapid sharing of information about cyber incidents. The drill will also test the ability of the participating nations to coordinate a defence against a series of targeted cyber incidents involving a NATO mission network. “The cyber threat is not just a potential threat, it is daily reality,” Mr Ducaru said. “Conflicts can be virtual but with consequences that are real and destructive.”

At the Wales NATO Summit, Allies agreed that cyber-attacks can reach a threshold that threatens national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security, and stability. Their impact could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack. NATO leaders also affirmed that cyber defence is part of NATO's core task of collective defence.

“Cyber Coalition 2014” is the seventh such annual exercise.