Defence Cyber Marvel Exercise

Defence Cyber Marvel 3 Brought Global Organizations Together to Enhance Their Cyber Capabilities

In a world where cyber-attacks are constantly evolving, the urgency of improving cybersecurity measures is increasingly relevant. Cyber warfare represents a real threat to our everyday lives, and we must be ready to defend our critical infrastructures from these attacks.   

In order to train the global cyber workforce and increase their cyber preparedness, one of the biggest global cyber exercises, Defence Cyber Marvel 3 (DCM3), took place around the world, controlled from Tallinn, Estonia.  

Imagine a cybersecurity exercise with 1100+ participants from 90 different organizations (many, but not all military) forming 41 teams to compete against each other and enhance their cyber capabilities. In doing so, developing a network of contacts to support each other after the event.

In this article, we will tell you all about the objectives and outcomes of this 6-day-long live-fire cybersecurity exercise, which hosted participants from 19 different nations, including Germany, Ukraine, Japan, the US, and the UK, bringing together over 70 different organizations. The highest supporter being the U.K. Prime Minister and ROK president

The Process Behind the Defence Cyber Marvel 3 Exercise

Throughout the challenging competition, participants in a controlled environment were able to test their skills and find ways to stop the latest (and some not so new) cyber-attacks against defending forces in real-world scenarios. 

Defence Cyber Marvel 3 offered participants an opportunity to participate in different technical challenges, which pushed them to compete against each other and develop their cybersecurity skills. 

At CybExer Technologies, we are happy to share that, in collaboration with CR14, we made a significant contribution to designing, building, and executing this exercise on both – a technical and conceptual level. 

We have been partnering with the Defence Cyber Marvel annual event for the past three years now and throughout this significant strategic partnership, we have seen extensive jumps in quality, numbers, volume, machines, and the professionalism that went through to improve the level of this global event. 

In this year’s edition, the CybExer and CR14 teams successfully managed to bring the speedy capability to reach new levels of the exercise and ensure everything was set up properly, while being representative of the U.K. ambitions as a global cyber power.

Besides supporting the exercise design, our team also provided the NATO innovation awarded integrated scoring and awareness tool, which gave the organizers the required data to have an instant overview of the exercise flow while concurrently evaluating the exercise objectives.  

This tool was the key to managing the main delivery and quantifying the outputs and benefits to justify the investment this year, and inform future financial decisions both for DCM and wider organizational cyber training. 

The Chief Operating Officer of CybExer Technologies, Aare Reintam, spoke about the importance of the Defence Cyber Marvel 3 cybersecurity exercise for participating organizations worldwide:

“Thanks to these kinds of Live Fire exercises, we were able to improve the incident responder’s defensive capabilities and offensive cyber operator’s attacking capabilities.” 

“At the same time, we managed to share our experience with the Higher Controlling team on how to produce and execute these types of cybersecurity exercises for constantly improving the team’s cybersecurity posture.” 

“It is essential for military and governmental organizations to understand the value of defensive and offensive sides. They need to understand the insights on how to conduct these types of cyber exercises in order to meet the goals they are setting effectively.” 

The CybExer team also managed to build 4 digital battlefield twins from the Operational Technology (OT) side, ensuring the event was more technically streamlined and operationally relevant. 

So, other than supporting military communication systems, we managed to build up and support governmental entities and industry partners as well as other vital service providers. Besides, our technical support also covered digital society aspects of the event, ensuring the technical security on the highest level.

The Chief Operating Officer of CR14, Allar Valots, also gave his comments about this exercise:

CybExer has extensive experience in conducting exercises, which was evident throughout DCM3. They ensured that the exercise ran smoothly and professionally. Having partnered with CybExer multiple times, we can honestly say that working with them is always a great experience.

Objectives of This Exercise

Defence Cyber Marvel 3 was held in a live-fire cybersecurity exercise format, equipping global participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to detect, prevent, and respond to potential cyber threats and attacks. 

Generally, live-fire exercises provide participants with a standardized game net environment, which allows fair scoring so they know how well they are performing with the given task. As a result, the primary objectives of this exercise were the following: 

  • Identify, develop and retain talented personnel in cybersecurity, helping to address the current skills gap that the market has. 
  • Foster cooperation between the team members and organization in cyber defence, which helps them to achieve better results when they return to their day jobs. 
  • Improve live reactions, defence planning, and environment to ensure their readiness for a potential attack in a safe-to-fail environment, giving participants an opportunity to test and improve their preparedness for when the actual cyber threats are realized. 
  • Conduct proper analysis and feedback of attacks to aid learning. This can be achieved by giving the participants more clarity on how these processes generally work and what expectations to have when the real attacks happen. 
  • Create and deliver timely reports to responsible parties for effective decision-making. This helps everyone involved to learn how to document the whole process, making it more efficient to review and make more beneficial decisions for the team. 

Besides the mentioned objectives for military organizations, the DCM 3 exercise also has a social impact on the general safety of our everyday lives. 

There are constant cyber attacks against schools, court systems, hospitals, transportation, and other critical infrastructure – it is important to ensure their safety as well and be prepared for any kind of potential attack. 

The public relations or information operations narrative go hand in hand with such cyber events. These cyber exercises are ensuring participants consider and contribute to the public or reputational narrative during such events.  

Wrapping Up

Being part of a Defence Cyber Marvel 3 global cybersecurity exercise for the third consecutive year was an exceptional experience for our team. 

Our team saw extensive improvements in quality, numbers, volumes, and other aspects in this year’s edition of DCM. We were happy to technically support the full cycle of this exercise together with our partners– from planning and execution to wrapping up from a cybersecurity training perspective, while learning a few things ourselves! 

This year’s Defence Cyber Marvel cybersecurity exercise was supported by different organizations as partners, such as CR14, Elastic, and Clarified Security.

At CybExer Technologies, we are always delighted to take part in such global projects and share our experiences with other organizations worldwide.