NATO trains Iraqi experts in cyber defence

  • 21 Nov. 2016 - 02 Dec. 2016
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  • Last updated: 09 Dec. 2016 11:06

Iraqi experts were trained on cyber defence at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey to improve their expertise and technical knowledge and to contribute to the strengthening of Iraqi national cyber defence capabilities. This course was supported by the Science for Peace and security (SPS) Programme and took place from 21 November to 2 December 2016.

Addressing Iraq’s needs

This training course aimed at Iraqi system/network administrators was tailored specifically to Iraq’s needs by focusing on its cyber security and defence requirements presented to NATO. Overall, 16 civil servants from the new Iraqi Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) were trained during the course.

The hands-on training programme included both theoretical sessions as well as practical laboratory exercises of core aspects of cyber defence, including cryptanalysis, prevention of data exfiltration, advanced digital forensics, and conducting vulnerability assessment. 

Mr Aldulsamad, Director of the CIRT, remarked “we appreciate the broad approach that covered cyber security as a whole because it enabled each expert to be exposed to areas that are very different from the one they specialise in, together with the security implications that they have to be aware of in order to be better equipped at tackling their everyday challenges.”

The course focused on raising cyber security awareness and provided the trainees with the expertise and technical knowledge to help increase resilience of their national networks. Upon their return, the trainees will be able to apply the gained knowledge in the daily operation of their institutions thereby significantly contributing to the strengthening of Iraqi national cyber defence capabilities.

The co-director for this advanced training course, Mr Murad Assafi (National Security Council of Iraq), expressed his satisfaction with this training for the CIRT cyber defence experts and proposed a follow-up training stating that “a further training would be very useful, allowing Iraq’s institutions to benefit from the expertise of METU lecturers.”

Contributing to Iraq’s defence capacity building

The SPS training was delivered as part of the Defence Capacity Building (DCB) Initiative endorsed by Allied leaders at the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales. “Upon the request from the Iraqi authorities, the SPS Programme rapidly reacted and provided this tailor-made, high-level expert course, significantly contributing NATO’s strategic objectives in the area of defence capacity-building,” noted Dr Deniz Beten, Senior SPS & Partnership Cooperation Advisor.

The SPS Programme provides strong support to the DCB Initiative. Currently, the programme supports several activities in this area. This is the second SPS activity implemented under the DCB Package for Iraq. The SPS Programme also assists Iraq through a multi-year project in the field of counter-IED, composing of expert training and related specialist equipment.