The UK is teaming up with over 30 other nations in a NATO cyber defence war game being held in Estonia this week to test the allies' ability to withstand a large-scale cyber attack targeting their information infrastructures.
The three-day Cyber Coalition 2013 exercise, which started on Tuesday 26th, involves more than 400 cyber security, legal and government experts from across the NATO alliance and partner countries in a test designed to improve their cyber defence skills. The exercise was conducted from the Estonian National Defence College training centre in Tartu.
The war game plays out a fictitious crisis in which all the participating nations have to ward off simulated cyber attacks. The exercise requires action and collaboration between the 100 participants in Tartu and over 300 others scattered across national capitals in 32 countries.
Those involved are from the 27 NATO member nations, as well as partners Finland, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland, together with representatives from NATO headquarters in Brussels and other NATO agencies across Europe. The European Union and New Zealand are also participating in an observer role.
Navy Lieutenant Roland Murof, a spokesman for the Estonian Defence Forces, told SCMagazineUK.com that Cyber Coalition 2013 is the largest exercise of its kind in terms of participating countries.
He said NATO has been running annual cyber defence exercises since 2008, when the only participants were NATO staff. “Since then it has become bigger and bigger and now 27 nations are on-board, and partners.”
The exercise aims to check NATO and its partners' technical and operational responsibilities and review co-ordination and co-operation across the alliance.
Jamie Shea, deputy assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges at NATO headquarters, adds: "Cyber attacks are a daily reality and they are growing in sophistication and complexity. NATO has to keep pace with this evolving threat and Cyber Coalition 2013 will allow us to fully test our systems and procedures to effectively defend our networks - today and in the future."
As host nation, Estonia is providing the war game infrastructure, training facilities and logistics support.
The exercise is being run by the NATO HQ Cyber Defence Management Board. Other main bodies involved include NATO Computer Incident Response Capability, the NATO Communications and Information Agency and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.