World's biggest cyber wargame features battle over online services and industrial control system

'Berylia' may be a fictional battleground but the issues involved are perfectly plausible.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Tallinn will be the host of a giant cyber wargame this week.


The world's largest cyber wargame will take place this week, with 550 security professionals from 26 nations battling over the computer networks of the fictional state of Berylia.

The Locked Shields 2016 cyber defence exercise -- organised by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia -- sees 20 'blue teams' representing 19 nations and NATO's Computer Incident Response Capability attempting to defend the systems and services of the fictional country from attack.

More than 1,700 attacks will be carried out against the 1,500 virtualised systems the teams have to defend -- a variety of servers, online services and an industrial control system.

And it's not just about stopping digital attacks: as well as handling and reporting incidents, the defenders have to solve forensic challenges and respond to the fictional media inquiries and legal issues that could crop up in a real incident.

The annual exercise is organised in cooperation with the Estonian Defence Forces, Finnish Defence Forces, the Swedish Defence College, the British Army, the United States European Command and other organisations.

While Berylia is a fictional state, the issues faced by the defenders are not. In 2007, Estonia suffered a sustained cyber attack, which saw hackers overwhelm banks, newspapers and government services after Estonia decided to move a Soviet war memorial.

More recently, NATO updated its strategy so that a cyber attack on one of its members could be treated as the equivalent of an attack with conventional weapons, and trigger its collective defence clause. Meanwhile, hackers managed to cause power outages in Ukraine, increasing concerns about the vulnerabilities in industrial control systems.

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