NATO Readies for Cyber War: Simulation Shows Unified Front Against Attack

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has concluded its annual flagship cyber defense simulation, which included more than 1,000 cyber defenders from 26 NATO allies, nine non-member countries and participants from industry and academia.

World’s Large Cyber Defense Simulation

In addition to NATO members, the large scale, five-day exercise, dubbed Cyber Coalition 2022, also included NATO invitees Finland and Sweden along with non-members Georgia, Japan, European Union states Austria, Cyprus, Ireland and Malta and independent Switzerland.

The simulation is intended to boost the cyber resilience of the participating countries and test and train cyber defenders from across the Alliance to defend NATO and national networks.

This year’s event took place between November 28 and December 2 in Tallinn, Estonia, as well as remotely. It bears special urgency given Russia’s cyberattacks on Ukraine. Russia has launched hundreds of cyber forays against Ukraine, dozens of which have hit government and critical infrastructure facilities.

Cyber Coalition 2022 is based on a realistic scenario where a powerful threat actor tries to compromise a NATO mission by conducting advanced and sophisticated cyber operations. The cyberattacks trigger the coordination and collaboration of participating NATO, Allied and partner cyber defenders.

The scenario helps prepare cyber defenders for real-life cyber challenges, including attacks on critical infrastructure as well as disruption of NATO and allied assets while in operations.

“Icebergen” is Fictional Cyberattack Target

This year’s fictional target was Icebergen, a country located somewhere between Iceland and Norway. On November 28, hackers launched a digital assault on the island in an attempt to steal intelligence and intellectual property, disrupt government services, and bring down the power grid, Politico reported. I

n the exercise, the U.S. led air command and control, Romania helped to develop the storyline, the U.K. was responsible for the ground counter and Poland took charge of special operations forces, the report said.

While the results were not released publicly U.S. Navy Col. Charles Elliott, who directed the exercise, reportedly told reporters that no country failed the exercise:

“The best part about this exercise […] is that it is a collaborative and cooperative environment, and it is not a competition. Building on the success of this year, we will incorporate more real-world lessons learned as we go into next year.”

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