June 22, 2015

Between June 16 and June 18, 2015, the National Security Authority (NSA) in cooperation with the European Cyber Security Initiative (ECSI) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) organized the cyber security exercise called Strategic Decision Making Course & Exercise on Cyber Crisis Management.

The exercise which took place on the NSA premises in Prague aimed to examine the state's ability of decision making and efficient use of available resources to counter the cyberspace crisis. During the exercise there were practiced primarily the communication channels and the cooperation in dealing with the cyber security incidents between four sectors: 1. The Government and other executive; 2. The Army and the intelligence services; 3. The Police and the prosecutor and 4. The private sector. NSA held the position of a main host and also strengthened two teams with its experts.

The first day was devoted to expert lectures, which aimed to unify and extend knowledge of participants in selected areas. The introductory block was opened by the director of the NSA Mr Dusan Navratil. He was followed by the Cyber security program and project manager of the EDA Mr Wolfgang Röhrig and the Estonian Ambassador to the Czech Republic His Excellency Sten Schwede. The introductory block was closed with two presentations by Mr Wolfgang Röhrig and Mr Rob Smeaton from the European External Action Service. The first contribution by Mr Röhrig was about the Cyber defence concept and the EU cyber abilities development. The second contribution by Mr Smeaton was about the Cyberspace from the EU Military Staff point of view.

The next block was introduced by the director of the ESCI Mr Lauri Almann with the lecture on Strategic decision making issues in the field of cyber security. He was followed by Ms Tatana Jancarkova of the National Cyber Security Centre, who spoke about the legal aspects of the cyber security focused on the Czech Republic. The representative of the Portuguese Ministry of Defence Mr Joao Annese devoted the following contribution to the experiences from the similar exercise, which had been held in Portugal last year and to the implementation of the results to the National cyber security ensuring program. This block as well as the first day was closed by Mr Fréderic Garnier from CERT-EU, who focused on the issue of solving current cyber threats at the EU level.

The second day was devoted to the actual exercise. It went by very realistic scenario with continuous storyline, which gradually escalated from simple cyber-attacks to combining cyber-attacks with kinetic operations. A total of 34 trainees were divided into four teams according to the four sectors mentioned above. Within each phase they were assigned tasks to resolve in the most effective way in terms of their responsibility and authority. The mutual cooperation and the exchange of needed information between teams were important factors in fulfilling assigned tasks. The content and time consuming intensity of tasks was increasing with regard to the scenario.

The third day the results of the practical part were presented including graphical visualization. Then a summary and a discussion followed.

Domestic and foreign observers who oversaw the entire exercise were also an important part. The Czech observers were represented by the security team of the Masaryk University CSIRT-MU, the Agency for communication and information systems of the Czech Army and one private company. The foreign observers were then represented by Slovakian CSIRT-SK, the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia, NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD CoE), Ministries of Defence of Austria and Portugal and the Information Security Agency (ENISA). As an observer the Estonian ambassador to the NATO His Excellency Lauri Lepik also attended the exercise.

Final words were uttered by the representatives of the National Cyber Security Centre – the Director Mr Vladimir Rohel and the Head of the Department of theoretical support, education and research Mr Daniel Bagge. For foreign partners spoke and thanked Mr Wolfgang Röhrig and Mr Kusti Salm from the Permanent delegation of the republic of Estonia to the NATO.

The entire exercise was rated very positively from both sides - organizers and participants. They agreed not only about the benefit the exercise had brought, but also about the desire to hold this kind of exercises regularly.