NATO CCDCOE headquarters in Tallinn. Source: ERR

This year’s high-level cyber security Exercise Locked Shields is the largest of its kind, organizers, the Tallinn-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE), have announced.

Under a new format for 2021, this year’s event will be the largest global live-fire cyber defense exercise worldwide, the CCDCOE says, and will aim to highlight the need for cyber defenders and strategic decision-makers to understand the numerous interdependencies between national IT systems of various countries.

Exercise Locked Shields as a whole runs Tuesday to Friday.

The importance and relevance of Locked Shields can be gauged from the range of cyber threats which concern NATO allies and other states, while the exercise will test these countries’ abilities to protect vital services and critical infrastructure, the CCDCOE says.

Technical and strategic games will facilitate participating nations with whole-command-chain rehearsals in the context of a major cyber incident, affecting both military and civilian systems.

The exercise scenario sees a fictional island state, Berylia, suffering a deteriorating security situation after a succession of hostile events coincide with coordinated cyberattacks against the state’s major military and civilian IT systems.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of participants will be taking part remotely, in their home states, rather than in-house on participating teams in Tallinn as with past events.

The CCDCOE says it will also be providing comms via its own site and its Twitter and LinkedIn pages, together with photos, when they are ready, on its Flickr page.

Exercise Locked Shields 2021is being organized by the CCDCOE in cooperation with NATO Communications and Information Agency, the Estonian Ministry of Defense, the Estonian Defense Forces, Siemens, Ericsson, TalTech, CR14, Bittium, Clarified Security, Arctic Security, Cisco, Stamus Networks, SpaceIT, Sentinel, the Financial Service Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), US Defense Innovation Unit, Microsoft, Atech, Avibras, SUTD iTrust Singapore, The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, European Defense Agency, Space ISAC, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), STM, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, NATO M&S COE and PaloAlto networks.

Founded in Tallinn in 2008, NATO CCDCOE is a NATO-accredited international military organization supporting its member states and NATO with cyber defense expertise in the fields of technology, strategy, operations and law. At the heart of the center is a diverse group of experts, including researchers, analysts, trainers and educators. A mix of military, government and industry backgrounds allows the center to provide a unique, 360-degree approach to cyber defense.