Roughly three dozen cyber teams from 11 nations, including personnel from Ukraine, the U.S., Japan, Singapore, Kenya, Oman and the United Kingdom, successfully defended against a sophisticated cyberattack on national infrastructure, ostensibly by Russia, in a simulated exercise named Defense Cyber Marvel 2.
Estonia Hosts Cyber Exercise
The recent exercise took place in Tallin, Estonia, where in late December the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched a similar exercise involving 1,000 cyber defenders, 26 NATO allies and nine non-member countries.
That five-day exercise, dubbed Cyber Coalition 2022, had similar intentions as the Defence Cyber Marvel 2, 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. The operation bore special urgency given Russia’s continuing cyberattacks on Ukraine.
While this operation had had a smaller set of nation participants, its scope was a wide-scale battle exercise on a par with the earlier battle testing. During Defence Cyber Marvel 2, the Royal Navy's 900 cyber crew and Ukrainian cyber warfare experts successfully defended against virtual attacks on national infrastructure, including attacks on networks, industry control systems, and unmanned robotic systems. The simulated threats were similar to the tactics used by Russia to disrupt Ukrainian cyberspace during the early days of the invasion one year ago.
Royal Navy, Ukraine "Most Improved"
The Royal Navy and Ukraine team were declared the most improved at the end of the week-long exercises, which were run as a competition with participants judged on their effectiveness and speed.
Commenting on the cyber exercises, Chief Petty Officer Roger Brand, Royal Navy Maritime C5ISR Support Unit (MCSU) Cyber Protection Team Leader, said:
“Hosting and supporting the Ukrainian cyber team has been an experience not to be forgotten. Leading a bi-national team of cyber experts was a challenge but through the common language of ‘geek’, collaborative working became a norm. Although both nations have different strategic and tactical procedures, through continued communication these boundaries were moulded into an advanced cyber capability. Talking with my Ukrainian counterpart we discovered this exercise was based very, very closely on the real world events a year ago.”