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EU defence ministers practiced decision making under cyber threats

12. September 2017 - 11:10
EU ministers took part in the first strategic cybersecurity table-top exercise EU CYBRID 2017 in Tallinn today (photo: Annika Haas / EU2017EE)

During the informal meeting of the EU defence ministers, the ministers took part in the first strategic cybersecurity table-top exercise EU CYBRID 2017 in Tallinn today. The scenario led participants from technical cyber questions to the necessity of making strategic decisions.

The objective of the exercise, which focused on situational awareness, crisis management and strategic communication between member states, was to practice procedures in a situation in which a cyber-attack was underway against the European Union’s military structures. The goal for participants was to reach a policy guideline that the European Union should adopt in the event of such a situation.

According to Minister for Defence Jüri Luik, who took part in the EU CYBRID 2017, the exercise showed that various technical problems could quickly develop into questions that require political guidance.

“The cyber world and cyber threats do not recognise national boundaries or the barriers between organisations. It is therefore important to perform joint exercises of this kind, between European Union member states as well as the EU and NATO. We must exchange information and have a common understanding, in order to ensure improved preparedness for dealing with cyber threats,” said Minister for Defence Luik.

During the course of the exercise, which lasted for two hours, defence ministers were sent information about various attacks that shut down part of the European Union's military structure, and the ministers had a limited amount of time to make decisions on how to react to the notices. The exercise was led by Permanent Secretary Jonatan Vseviov from the Estonian Ministry of Defence.

Various institutions and agencies from the European Union, such as the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), and the European Defence Agency also helped prepare the EU CYBRID 2017 exercise. The Estonian cyber capabilities’ development company BHC Laboratory was responsible for the technical aspects of the training exercise.

The informal meeting of the European Union defence ministers will continue with discussions on the topic of security problems in the neighbourhood of Europe, especially in the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions. At their joint working lunch with the foreign affairs ministers, the defence ministers will discuss the implementation of European Union defence initiatives.