NATO war games look to banking
What if banks and other financial institutions suffered a global cyber attack? This is what NATO wanted to simulate with the exercises it carried out last week at its Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Estonia.
Locked Shields is the name given to these annual NATO exercises – carried out since 2010 – which, on this occasion, wanted to imagine the situation that would be generated by a financial collapse that suspended or seriously affected all types of economic transactions. It is one of the critical infrastructures that includes every self-respecting government Cybersecurity Plan.
Last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York carried out a study focusing on the wholesale payment network, concluding that the impact of any of the five most active US banks would lead to very significant secondary effects on other banks, affecting average to 38% of the network. In its study, this bank revealed that any interruption of service that occurs in a bank with less than 10 billion dollars in assets seriously damages the entire banking system.
Now, with the help of The Bank for International Settlements, NatWest Group, Mastercard, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the Swiss Computer Emergency Readiness Team and Switch-Cert, among others, NATO has carried out this scenario planning. These ‘war games’ require the involvement of offensive and defensive teams – red and blue teams – whose coverage is the largest of this type of exercise that is carried out, involving more than 2,000 participants from 30 countries.
In this edition of Locked Shields 22 blue teams participate assuming the role of national cyber rapid reaction teams. The exercise involves some 5,000 virtualized systems that are subject to more than 4,000 attacks, to test how teams report these incidents, execute strategic decisions, and resolve emerging media, legal, and forensic challenges.
The results of Locked Shields, which depict cyberattacks in a fictional country called Berylia, are highly confidential for national security reasons, without even transcending the scenarios. In these hypotheses, not only are digital attacks carried out, but they are combined with other challenges, such as the pandemic without going any further, having to face all threats at the same time.
The importance of this type of simulation does not focus exclusively on the exercises themselves, but on the way in which relationships are strengthened between actors who, in the event of a disaster, will have to work closely together to overcome it.