What is the CyberEurope2014 and why is it so important?

Pierluigi Paganini October 31, 2014

Which is the importance of the CyberEurope2014 organized by the ENISA? It is the largest and most comprehensive EU cyber-security exercise to date.

Cyber security is considered today a pillar for the stability of any government, a growing number of cyber attacks every day hit private companies, government entities and critical infrastructure, these offensive appear even more sophisticated and need a prompts and efficient response.

More than 200 organizations and 400 cyber-security professionals from 29 European countries have been involved in the biggest ever cyber security exercise in Europe, the participant was engaged in a day-long simulation, organized by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), which intend to evaluate the quality of the response to the cyber threats and the capabilities to mitigate them.

As a part of Cyber Europe 2014, ENISA and all the participant will coordinate their efforts to test the resilience of IT infrastructure and response capacity at various levels in case of a major cyber attack.

Cyber Europe 2014 (CyberEurope2014) this is the name of the exercise organized by ENISA, involved experts from the public and private sectors including cyber security agencies, national CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams),  telecoms companies, energy companies, ministries, financial institutions and internet service providers. The CyberEurope2014 exercise was distributed across different countries in Europe, which is coordinated by a central exercise control center.

#CyberEurope2014 is a bi-annual, large scale cyber security exercise. It is organised every two years by ENISA, and this year counts 29 European countries (26 EU and 3 from EFTA) plus EU Institutions. It takes place in 3 phases throughout the year: technical, which involves the incident detection, investigation, mitigation and information exchanges (completed in April); operational/tactical, dealing with alerting, crisis assessment, cooperation, coordination, tactical analysis, advice and information exchanges at operational level (today) and early 2015; strategic, which examines decision making, political impact and public affairs. ” states ENISA on the exercise.

The cyber security experts know that the above categories are always involved with different roles in large-scale attack campaign, for this reason the ENISA decided to test their procedures and capabilities in a simulation that stressed them.


The exercise is very complex, the experts which organized the #CyberEurope2014 simulated the concurrence of more than 2000 separate cyber-incidents. The casuistry is wide and includes different categories of attacks, including denial of service attacks against online services, cyber espionage campaigns, and attack against critical infrastructure.

A similar initiative was already arranged five years ago, as explained by the Executive Director of ENISA, Professor Udo Helmbrecht, commented:

“Five years ago there were no procedures to drive cooperation during a cyber-crisis between EU Member States. Today we have the procedures in place collectively to mitigate a cyber-crisis on European level. The outcome of today’s exercise will tell us where we stand and identify the next steps to take in order to keep improving.”
Critical infrastructure protection is one of the element of major concerns for governments, recently the number of cyber attacks against these architectures is increased and long-term cyber operations are targeting their systems, in many cases going under the radar for years.
“The sophistication and volume of cyber-attacks are increasing every day. They cannot be countered if individual states work alone or just a handful of them act together. I’m pleased that EU and EFTA Member States are working with the EU institutions with ENISA bringing them together. Only this kind of common effort will help keep today’s economy and society protected.” said The European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes.

The #CyberEurope2014 has a crucial importance to test the capabilities of the team on cyber-crisis in Europe, in particular the exercise on the capability to share operational information between the various entities involved. Information sharing and threat intelligence are essential activities to respond to any incident avoiding the propagation of the effects across multiple sectors.

“The #CyberEurope2014 exercise will, among others, test procedures to share operational information on cyber-crisis in Europe; enhance national capabilities to tackle cyber crises; explore the effect of multiple and parallel information exchanges between private-public, private-private at national and international level. The exercise also tests out the EU-Standard Operational Procedures (EU-SOPs), a set of guidelines to share operational information on cyber crisis.” stated the ENISA in an official announcement.

The kind of exercise has a great importance to exchange best practice in procedures and expertise to incentive the growth of a stronger community that is able to tackle transnational cyber-crises.

The CyberEurope2014 is a three phase exercise, and its results will be presented at the end of the year … let’s wait for them.

Pierluigi Paganini

Security Affairs –  (CyberEurope2014, ENISA)

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