NATO Locked Shields 2017, world’s largest cyber defence exercise just ended

Pierluigi Paganini May 01, 2017

Locked Shields is the world’s largest and most advanced international technical live-fire cyber defence exercise organized by the NATO since 2010.

Locked Shields is the world’s largest and most sophisticated international cyber defence exercise. It is an annual event since 2010, Locked Shields is organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and aims to trains security experts who protect national IT infrastructure.

Locked Shields 2017 is organised in cooperation with the Estonian Defence Forces, the Finnish Defence Forces, the Swedish Defence University, the British Joint Army, the United States European Command, Air Operations COE and Tallinn University of Technology.

This year edition was recently concluded (2428 Apr 2017), it involved around 800 participants from 25 nations.

While the organisers of the Locked Shields 2017 exercise were in Tallinn, Estonia, the participating Blue Teams worked remotely through secure connections from their home bases.

The exercise stresses participants asking them to face different trials, including organizing an incident response, solving forensic challenges, and responding to legal and strategic communications and scenario injects.

Locked Shields 2017

Locked Shields is a strategic event that puts participants in front of cutting-edge technologies and hacking techniques, this is the only way to face even more complex cyber threats in a real word cyber scenario.

“To stay abreast of market developments, Locked Shields focuses on realistic and cutting-edge technologies, networks and attack methods.” reads the official announcement.

The cyber defence exercise was just ended, the Blue Teams have been tasked to maintain the services and networks of a military air base of a fictional country.

In the simulation, the air base was experiencing a wide range of cyber attacks on its electric power grid system, unmanned aerial vehicles, military command and control systems, critical information infrastructure components and other operational infrastructure.

“The size and scope of technologies, networks and devices used in Locked Shields 2017 has increased considerably – leading to more attacks and specialised systems involved.” continues the announcement.  “Specialised systems enable teams to practice the defence of systems that they are not working with on a regular basis. However, in the modern threat landscape incidents with specialised systems may potentially have a profound effect on a military mission or the entire society.”

The experts launched more than 2500 possible attacks against Blue Teams, according to the NATO IT staff more than 3000 virtualised systems have been deployed during the exercise.

For this first time in the history of the event, this year the NATO has run a strategic track to the exercise.

The exercise also involved industry partners such as Siemens AG, Threod Systems, Cyber Test Systems, Clarified Security, Iptron, Bytelife, BHC Laboratory,, GuardTime and numerous others.

The Italian team was composed of a group of experts from three armed forces, Carabinieri, along with researchers from CINECA (Interuniversity Consortium for the Management of Electronic Calculation Center), Universities of Rome La Sapienza and Genoa.

The Ministry of the Interior also took part in the exercise with a group of analysts from the National Anti-Crime Center for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CNAIPIC).

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Locked Shields 2017, cyber security)

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