200 cybersecurity specialists training to protect Lithuania’s critical infrastructure

“According to the exercise scenario, dangerous incidents have been occurring in our region for the past 72 hours and still continue – unrest in neighbouring countries, information on planned terrorist and cyber-attacks. Therefore Lithuania has no time to lose to protect critical infrastructure. We take the decision to mobilise cyber capabilities and request the U.S. and the EU cybersecurity rapid response teams to help,” Vice Minister of National Defence Edvinas Kerza presented the scenario of cybersecurity exercises running in Lithuania on October 11.

This week, October 8-12, cybersecurity and defence exercises Cyber Shield 2018 and Amber Mist 2018 running in Lithuania are providing an opportunity to perfect cooperation for representatives of the public and private sectors, Lithuanian Armed Forces, and NATO allies, to protect Lithuania’s critical infrastructure from cyber threats. The exercises assess ability of cyber operational capabilities to identify cyber threats and identify and assess hostile actors, and to prevent potential cyber-attacks and neutralisation of their impact.

This year both exercises have become international including 200 specialists from Lithuania, the U.S., and the EU member countries.

Exercise Cyber Shield 2018 held by the National Cyber Security Centre involves roughly 140 representatives of over 30 agencies and enterprises of Lithuania’s private and public sectors that manage the country’s information resources or critical infrastructure. Cyber Shield 2018 also includes the team working on the cyber response capabilities project initiated by Lithuania in the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework.

“Participants of Cyber Shield are training to defend systems which ensure critical services for the population, as well as to implement properly procedures of National Cyber-incident Management Plan,” Director of the National Cybersecurity Centre Rytis Rainys said.

Exercise Amber Mist 2018 train participants from the Communications and Information Systems Command of the Defence Staff, and Network Management and Cyber Defence Modules of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas Headquarters Battalion who are ensuring cybersecurity and would carry out defensive cyber operations in peacetime or during war. Other training audience are cyber-incident response teams of Vilnius University and Lithuanian Railway JSC., U.S. Pennsylvania National Guard, and the US Air Force cyber defence component. Roughly 10 soldiers of active reserve are also training in the exercise for the second consecutive year.

“Including active reserve soldiers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces was a very important factor. We have troops who live their civilian lives and join the Armed Forces at the expense of their spare time. TO us it means a stronger defensive potential and to them – an opportunity of self-realisation and performing their civic duties,” Chief of the Communications and Information Systems Command of the Defence Staff Lt Col Vytautas Sriubas said.

Teams training in both exercises will participate both, from exercises sites in Vilnius and Kaunas, and remotely – from their agencies and enterprises.

For the third consecutive year the exercises cooperate closely with Lithuania’s education institutions: Kaunas University of Technology and Vilnius University are providing virtual informational and other infrastructure for training. The Lithuanian Armed Forces signed a cooperation agreement with Vilnius University in September 2018.

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