Since 2010, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has organized Locked Shields cyber defence exercises to build western society’s resilience. The exercises are meant for Nato members and contributing participants of the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCE).
During two days, over 2,000 participants from 32 nations practice protecting national IT systems and critical infrastructure under the pressure of a large-scale cyberattack. With 8,000 realistic cyberattacks targeted at 5,500 virtualized systems, Locked Shields is the largest and most complex international live-fire cyber defence exercise. The participating teams also practice tactical and strategic decision making, cooperation, and solving forensic, legal, media operations, and information warfare challenges.
The winner of the Locked Shields 2022 was a voluntary reservist-based team from the National Defence Training Association of Finland (MPK) in collaboration with the Finnish Defence Forces. According to the leader of the winning team and Nixu’s Chief Strategy Officer Pietari Sarjakivi “Nixu’s purpose of making cyberspace a secure place is visible in events like this where several colleagues participate in building and showcasing our nation’s defensive cyber capabilities.“ He continues: “Many of our colleagues have been participating in the exercise in different roles over the years. I’m thankful that Nixu enables our active reservists to join and supports the Finnish blue team. I believe that companies and the whole society benefit from these exercises where specialists can learn from each other, test new methodologies in a safe environment, and benchmark their knowledge against each other.”
"I’m thankful that Nixu enables our active reservists to join and supports the Finnish blue team. I believe that companies and the whole society benefit from these exercises where specialists can learn from each other, test new methodologies in a safe environment, and benchmark their knowledge against each other.” – Pietari Sarjakivi, Nixu
Pietari Sarjakivi gave a presentation on the Locked Shields exercise in May 2022 during the cybersecurity community HelSec's event. As key takeaways for organizations, Pietari listed a few things about how the principles applied in the Locked Shields exercise can also be utilized in the business world:
- Link actions to purpose – Why are we doing this? Why is this important? When people are working with a purpose or calling to do something, they have a higher motivation to succeed, and this benefits everyone involved.
- Prepare and exercise – A lot. The more you invest in the task that you are doing, the clearer it gets and the better you will get at it.
- Understand the business needs and optimize your actions accordingly – Make sure you know what is expected of you in your role and that it matches with the organization's business needs. Ask yourself: How is your success measured?
- Require accountability – People feel more committed when they have accountability in their work. This makes it also easier to trust that specific tasks are done when they have been clearly assigned to a specific person.
- Have a good situation picture and be ready to adapt – It can be called threat intelligence in the cyber world or business intelligence in the business world. In either case, you need to understand what is happening around you and how that affects what your are doing. Eventually, you need to be ready to process the information you receive, adapt to the situation, and plan your operations accordingly.
- Watch Pietari Sarjakivi's presentation from the HelSec gathering in May 2022 where he explains, among other things, how companies could benefit from attending the Locked Shields exercise and what was the winning recipe for the Finnish team.
Finland will officially join Nato today, April 4, 2023, and Finnish reservists will continue to take part in the Locked Shields exercise with other member state representatives and contributing participants.