Thursday, May 30, 2024

Ireland taking part in global cybersecurity exercise

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Ireland is taking part in a major international cyber defence training exercise this week.

A joint Irish and South Korean team of nearly 200 personnel are involved in the operation which sees staff having to deal with critical infrastructure coming under attack from hackers.

It is being led by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The teams involved are taking on the role of national cyber rapid reaction operatives that are deployed to assist a fictional country in handling a large-scale cyber incident, with all its implications.

In addition to securing complex IT systems, the participating teams must also be effective in reporting incidents and solving forensic, legal, media and information warfare challenges.

Operation ‘Locked Shields’ is a run by the Estonia-based NATO Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE).

Ireland is one of eight, non-NATO members which are contributing participants in the CCDCOE.

“This real-time network defence exercise is a unique opportunity for us to practise protection of national IT systems and critical infrastructure under the pressure of a severe cyber-attack,” said NCSC Director Richard Browne.

“It also provides us with an opportunity to build relationships not just across Europe, but across the globe as seen in our teaming with the Republic of Korea,” Dr Browne said.

Ireland’s involvement in the operation is supported by the Irish Defence Forces.

“International cyber exercises like this one are key capability builders for the Defence Forces as we progress the implementation of the DF’s Joint Cyber Defence Command,” said Director of the Defence Forces Communication and Information Services Corps, Colonel Mark Staunton.

‘Locked Shields’ has been run since 2010 and is the largest and most complex international live-fire cyber defence exercise in the world.

It is Ireland’s first time taking part in the operation.

Speaking during a visit to the NCSC to observe the exercises, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications with special responsibility for Communications Ossian Smyth said he was delighted to see the level of talent and dedication on display by the Irish team.

“The range of expertise available from public, private and academic organisations is a testament to Ireland’s strength as a digital economy with vibrant cyber security skills,” Mr Smyth said.

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