NATO

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TALLINN, Estonia – NATO’s flagship Allied Command Transformation-led cyber defence exercise Cyber Coalition 2019 took place in Tartu, Estonia from Dec 02 - 06, 2019.

The exercise, now in its twelfth iteration, saw approximately 900 participants from 28 NATO Allies and several partner nations work together in order to prepare and test cyber defenders for the ever-evolving cyber threat.

"We were happy to kick off the NATO [...] 2019 Cyber Coalition exercise from Tartu, Estonia. This year we emphasized warfare development through new experimentation, development of new tactics, techniques, and procedures with NATO's Cyberspace Operations Centre," said Lieutenant Commander Robert Buckles, Exercise Director. "And further enhance coordination and collaboration amongst the Alliance within the Cyberspace Domain of Operations,” he added.

The five-day exercise aimed to prepare participants via realistic scenario based training. The focus of the training was to enhance coordination and cooperation between NATO and participating nations, strengthen NATO’s ability to protect Alliance cyber space, conduct military operations in the cyber domain as well as test NATO and national procedures on information sharing, situational awareness in cyber space and decision making.

“This year we were pleased to work with our three new Partner Nations - Georgia, Japan, and Ukraine. And especially grateful to the Nation of Estonia for once again hosting NATO's flagship cyberspace exercise, Cyber Coalition 2019," said Buckles. "The Estonians are the most generous and thoughtful hosts, and very excited to share with them the success of this exercise. Estonia has established itself as one of the leading Nations in cyberspace and technology, and we are thankful to have had Cyber Coalition here once again."

In the experimentation track, Allied Command Transformation had three experiments that, together, encompass tasks for all warfare development activities. They support understanding of the future, concept development, research and experimentation, capability development, and to some extent training and identification of lessons.

Allied Command Transformation’s first experiment dealt with anticipating adversaries through behavioral analysis and detection, in cooperation with Old Dominion University's Computer Sciences Department. This objective is accomplished via Artificial Neural Network algorithms, used for Machine Learning purposes, and aims at improving response time whilst avoiding hundreds of human analyst hours trying to detect changing threats in logs.

The second experiment targeted information enrichment: through the use of complex correlation algorithms, military analysts receive information enriched with intelligence on possible adversaries, their intentions, and which other similar activities they conducted in the past.

The third experiment touched upon cyberspace multi-level situational awareness, targeting a better understanding of cyber environment, a projection of possible future scenarios, and facilitating decision making and action.

The exercise concluded on Friday, Dec. 6 after a media day and distinguished visitors day, where participants could demonstrate their collective knowledge for various military and industry leaders as well as multinational media outlets.