Crossed Swords 2017 Takes Cyber War Games to Next Level

Crossed Swords 2017, the cyberwar games sponsored by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, has added an element of cyber-kinetic engagement for the first time.

Taking place earlier this month, the exercise focused on developing tactical execution skills in a responsive cyber-defense scenario.

“The scenario was based on a military cyber-operation,” explained Aare Reintam, exercise director at the NATO CCD COE. “Penetration testers, digital battlefield professionals and members of Special Forces were tasked with regaining control over a specific military system. This one-of-the kind cyber-kinetic engagement meant that Special Forces were used to retrieve physical evidence, including electronic equipment and data storage devices, as they would in a realistic mission in cooperation with battlefield digital forensics professionals.”

Crossed Swords is the sister exercise of Locked Shields, the world’s largest and most advanced international technical cyber-defense exercise. It focuses on training penetration testers, digital forensics professionals, situational awareness experts and monitoring specialists that fill the role of the attacking team at Locked Shields. Crossed Swords 2017 trained evidence gathering and information analysis for technical attribution as well as identifying and stopping malicious activities.

“Technical cyber-defense exercises typically train information system defense,” said Reintam. “However, this can only be done with a real-time deployment of opposing force played by security specialists and penetration testers. These professionals, usually known as the Red Team, are the focus of Crossed Swords.”

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