HELSINKI --- The European Defence Agency’s (EDA) Cyber Ranges Federation project, in which 11 Member States federate their national cyber ranges and thereby improve their respective cyber defence training capabilities, reached an important milestone with the successful multinational demonstration exercise held in Helsinki.
The event, co-organised by the Finnish MoD and EDA, was attended and supported by experts from several contributing countries (Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Latvia) as well as the European Space Agency (ESA).
Two and a half years after the launch of the Cyber Ranges Federation project (the first ever cyber defence pooling & sharing project initiated by the Agency), the objective of the live demonstration was to showcase the practical implications and benefits of connecting and jointly using Member States’ cyber ranges in order to improve and expand each one’s cyber training capabilities. The event allowed participants to witness first-hand what the project aims to achieve and how it has already enhanced the cyber expertise and skills of each of the contributing Member States.
Practically speaking, the event consisted of a live fire exercise, based on a fictive but realistic training scenario, in which one team had to respond to and defend itself against cyber attacks from another. The exercise used SD-WAN technology as the backbone network technology. The participating national cyber ranges as well as the European Space Agency’s were all interconnected and interacting in real time, with and each of them having its own particular role to play in the exercise.
The demonstration event was part of the ‘European Union’s combined Cyber and Hybrid Week’ which is currently being held in Helsinki under the auspices of the Finnish EU Presidency. The aim of the week is to create synergies by combining three independent events: EDA’s Project Team Cyber Meeting (5-6 November), EDA’s Cyber Ranges Demo Event (6 November) and the Cyber Power in Hybrid Warfare-symposium organised by the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (7-8 November).
“Finland, as an active player in Cyber domain, has been honoured to be in the lead of this project since Sept 2018. Finalizing challenging project is always a result of good and fruitful cooperation – in this case between 11 contributing member states. It´s very significant to continue developing just established Cyber Ranges Federation platform in the future”, said Jukka Juusti, Permanent Secretary of Finnish Ministry of Defence.
“There isn’t probably a domain from which more new security threats are emerging than from cyber. Therefore, stepping up our common cyber defence is a matter of priority and urgency, as it is also reflected in the revised European Capability Development Priorities approved last year. By pooling and sharing their national cyber ranges, participating Member States will be able to improve their joint training conditions and, as a result, strengthen their cyber resilience. This successful exercise has shown that we are on the right path”, said Jorge Domecq, EDA’s Chief Executive.
“It is now well ascertained that space systems play a crucial role in the security, wellbeing and economic success of Europe. Protecting space assets from cyber threats is therefore a key priority and technological challenge. ESA has a duty to protect its Member States’ investments in space. Today we witnessed a successful demonstration of the ESA-EDA partnership. A partnership that will continue to be instrumental in increasing Europe’s cyber resilience, namely through strengthening cyber response skills and capabilities in ESA.
“Todays’ significant exercise illustrates our existing cyber resilience capabilities located in the European Space Security and Education Centre in Belgium. Cyber threats are constantly evolving. We must therefore maintain and strengthen our capabilities and have made the necessary funding proposals to the Council at Ministerial level to be held in late November. The vitality of our cooperation with EDA and its Member States will continue to play an important role in the future.
“This is therefore but a beginning, as we are currently considering the creation of a Joint ESA-EDA Cyber Resilience Task Force to further explore cooperation avenues, including with other European partners,” added Jan Woerner, ESA’s Director General.
The aim of EDA’s Cyber Ranges Federation project is to develop a more sophisticated and powerful platform for cyber training purposes connecting Member States´ national Cyber Ranges to one another and enabling other countries, which don’t have their cyber ranges, to train and improve their cyber defence skills nevertheless.
A European federation of cyber ranges, i.e. the availability of mutually accessible cyber defence training and exercise ranges, may in the future leverage other benefits, such as cyber research ranges and cyber simulation & test ranges.