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CybExer Red-Teaming Capabilities Deployed at NATO CCDCOE “Crossed Swords 2020” Exercise

3 February 2020. Tallinn

CybExer Technologies deployed its expertise in developing, testing and executing exercise Crossed Swords 2020, together with NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), CERT.LV, and other partners. The 6th iteration Crossed Swords in Riga, Latvia, brought together more than 120 technical experts from 26 nations including members of Cyber Commands, Special Forces and military police.

Organized annually since 2014, Crossed Swords is an international red-teaming exercise that sets focus on advancing cyber skills in preventing, detecting and responding to an adversary in the context of a full-scale cyber operation. Crossed Swords setting is highly experimental, yet authentic and challenging. The exercise combines different technical skills with kinetic force and is taking place in several locations simultaneously. Crossed Swords is a playground for experimentations where different new technologies and methods of cyber-attacks are analysed in a virtual and safe environment of a cyber range.

“We are proud of our long-term partnership with NATO CCDCOE, a NATO-accredited cyber defence hub in Tallinn. Contributing to the Crossed Swords exercise is one of the annual highlights for CybExer as this brings us together with the best minds in the military cyber actors,” said Mr Aare Reintam, COO of CybExer Technologies. CybExer also participated in the exercise Red Team activity in simulating a highly realistic “hackback” situation where an offensive operation is met with countermeasures.

NATO CCDCOE maintains that the exercise benefits largely from having industry partners on board and providing hands on integration of military and industry technology. CybExer and other industry partners contributing with their technology and know-how are of key importance to make the endeavour authentic and similar to real world challenges.

“The primary training audiences are cyber Red Teams, but also SOF, and the most a recent addition, a command module,” said the Director of CCDCOE Colonel Jaak Tarien. “Crossed Swords is unique in combining multidomain with multinational. This year’s Crossed Swords practiced a realistic cyber enabled joint operation.”

“For the first time in exercises’ history we had six nations working together as the Cyber Command element: the command function was fully integrated into technical and kinetic gameplay,“ Lauri Luht, the Director of Technical Exercises at the CCDCOE, concurred. “In technical exercises the training audience is not expected to have 100% success rate. The main task and lesson is to understand the coordination between multiple disciplines. At Crossed Swords, we link cyber elements with conventional force,” Luht explained.

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