In A First, Europe’s Militaries Hone Their Cyber Warfare Skills With ‘Live-Fire’ Drills

For the first time, a ‘live fire’ drill was conducted to test the preparedness of  Europe’s militaries to fight cyber threats from enemy nations or independent/proxy groups. As many as 18 European Union (EU) nations sent their military cyber response teams to the exercise.

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According to cybersecurity portal C4ISRNET, the drills were organized by the European Defense Agency. It is said ‘this is the opening salvo’ in a campaign that will stretch through the summer and include training sessions and conferences.

The event was called ‘live fire’ as three teams acted as opposing forces attacking the servers in real-time on cloud-based cyber ranges with actual targets. The attacking teams included experts from five member states while the defenders were tasked with protecting the assets from these unforeseen and unspecified attacks.

The European Defense Agency, which is affiliated with the European Union, hired an Estonian company, CybExer Technologies, to provide a cyber range for the participants to log in remotely, while also contributing two of the ‘red’ teams. The scenario also included the defenders to determine the location from which the attacks originated and determining the culprits behind it.

Mario Beccia, EDA project officer for cyber defense, said the drill’s aim was to help teams work together across nations rather than employing the latest technology. “It is our attempt to create a structure where military personnel can focus on cooperation,” he said in a Feb. 17 virtual news conference.

He added that it was imperative to find a third-party-based cloud cyber range because servers in most of the member nations required physical access. This could’ve made it a bit predictable for the participants, which they needed to avoid, maintaining the element of surprise, which is always present in the secretive world of cyber warfare.

He also said that the work of these men and women working in cyber teams is to protect against attacks on the control infrastructure of drones and spacecraft. It is also noteworthy that cyber attacks have intensified progressively in the 21st century and especially during the pandemic.

Much of the modern military hardware is connected via computer-centric command systems, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks to a lot larger extent than ever before.

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