Cyber experts from 26 Allies and five partner nations successfully conducted Exercise Cyber Coalition 2014 (CC14) from 18 to 20 November 2014. NATO's largest annual cyber defence exercise provided a stage for exercising strategic- and operational-level information sharing, senior-level decision making, and multi-disciplined coordination in the cyber realm.
In addition to the national participants, the NCI Agency participated along with NATO's Cyber Defence Management Board, the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability Coordination Centre, and NATO's Emerging Security Challenges Division. The Cyber Security Service Line (CSSL) Operations Team and NATO Computer Incident Response Capability Technical Centre led the management of the many cyber crisis scenarios presented in a high operational tempo, and a volatile and uncertain simulated NATO-Coalition environment.
Coordinating a swift response
The Exercise Control staff based themselves in Tartu, Estonia, home to a newly developed "cyber range"— a virtual environment used specifically for cyber warfare training and cyber technique development. The masterminds behind the training scenarios took full advantage of Estonia's cyber range, enabling new levels of realism to the exercise.
While this was a cyber defence exercise, the objectives went far beyond cyber security and technical capability challenges. Especially important was the exercising of communication between various NATO bodies, national cyber defence capabilities, and industry partners. This year's exercise scenarios included malicious code, mobile device eavesdropping, loss of precision radar targeting capabilities, and hostile intelligence service agents acting from inside the coalition network. As a response to one of the exercise injects, the newly acquired Cyber Security Rapid Reaction Team deployed with a full complement of field-hardened equipment to Athens, Greece, demonstrating its ability to be on site on short notice to diagnose cyber security issues and swiftly restore operational capability.
Plans for Cyber Coalition 2015 are already underway. Exercise coordinator, Allied Command Transformation, plans to seek increased membership in the exercise control team, new venues, and new challenging scenarios for the next training audience. CC15 should be another great exercise!