The risk of unexpected cyber attacks, especially on the government level, is the highest it has ever been. Research shows that attacks targeting governments increased by 95% globally in the second half of 2022.
Understanding risks and working on strategies to counter the threats posed by cyber warfare is more relevant than ever.
To tackle this problem, our team at CybExer Technologies, in partnership with e-Governance Academy (eGA), conducted an EU-supported Live Fire cybersecurity exercise on 14-16th November 2023 for Moldova’s Ministry of Defense cybersecurity professionals to enhance their cyber defense skills and boost their cyber resilience.
In this article, we will tell you all about the objectives, processes, and outcomes of this exercise, which brought together 29 members of the Armed Forces of Moldova.
What Was the Objective of This Exercise?
The main goal of this exercise was to equip the Moldovan military with the necessary skills and knowledge to detect, prevent, and respond to potential upcoming cyber threats.
In essence, this exercise provided participants with a standardized gamenet environment that allowed fair scoring so they would have an idea of how well they were performing their given tasks. As a result, the learning objectives of this exercise were the following:
- Fostering cooperation between various actors in cyber defense on an organizational level.
- Improving live reactions, defense planning and environment in case of an attack.
- Conducting a proper monitoring and analysis of attacks.
- Practicing discovery and understanding of sophisticated attack patterns and vectors against the targets.
- Creating and providing reports to responsible parties for effective decision-making.
What Was the Process Behind This Live-Fire Cybersecurity Exercise for Moldovan Military?
The first part of the exercise was all about practicing detecting and collecting data about potential attackers. At the same time, participants had the opportunity to attend different training sessions to develop their cyber capabilities on a technical level.
During the practical exercise, the Blue Team consisted of Moldovan military cybersecurity experts. First, they went through the training, which was conducted with a “Live Fire” method.
On the other hand, there was a Red Team, which consisted of the team from organizers. Their mission was to launch an intensive real-time attack against the virtual infrastructure of the Blue Teams.
The idea was that Blue Team members had to assess the crisis and ensure the protection of the services and networks that went under the “unexpected” cyber attack.
The participants of this exercise got to experience the process and challenge themselves, which gave them valuable insights into attacker operations – what they target, how they approach decision-making on changes and the effect of their actions.
Finally, the Blue Team received scores and feedback based on their performance with different criteria – handling challenges, providing reports, and collaborating together as a team.
Why Are These Types of Cybersecurity Exercises Important for Moldova’s Ministry of Defence?
Cybersecurity is one of the priority areas of the EU-Moldova cooperation. Anatolie Nosatîi, the Minister of Defense of Moldova, believes that these types of hands-on experiences help the team gain valuable knowledge in this field:
“Through this initiative, our cybersecurity experts gained valuable hands-on experience, enabling them to better understand possible threat vectors, to counter cyber-attacks as a team, and to safeguard the nation’s digital landscape effectively. This kind of training is very important, especially in the current security environment, which is very much affected by hybrid threats, including cyber-attacks.”
The Project Team Lead at the e-Governance Academy, Merle Maigre, believes that it is essential for the team to know how to use the most advanced tech-driven solutions:
“Cybersecurity is about people knowing how to use the technology and being able to act together, at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, in securing the online environment in today’s interconnected world. In the case of a cyber-attack, you need to have well-trained people who know how to use the latest and greatest tech-driven solutions. Cybersecurity is ultimately a very human issue.”
Practicing and developing skills in a controlled environment offers a unique opportunity for professionals to enhance their cybersecurity skills without having to face the potential risks associated with real-world scenarios.
Additionally, continuously conducting these types of cybersecurity exercises helps to validate policies, practice rapid decision-making, and train teams in a cost-effective way.
Putting together the Live-fire exercise in Moldova in collaboration with e-Governance Academy was a great experience. The planned activities aimed to strengthen the resilience and expertise of Moldova’s Ministry of Defense cybersecurity professionals.
During the training, teams managed to experience a realistic training environment and defend IT systems under intense simulated cyber attacks.
Our team at CybExer Technologies is delighted to take part in organizing such projects and share our experiences with other organizations globally.