Cyber exercise Alarmex 2021

On May 19–27 cyber exercise Alarmex 2021 took place in Lithuania and Poland: the European Union Cyber Rapid Response Team (CRRT) was activated to assist in a fictitious scenario of a large-scale cyberattack hitting diplomatic missions across several EU member states.

“Exercise Alarmex 2021 was executed in unusual conditions, COVID-19 related risks had to be managed as well, however, the objectives have been achieved – the decision-making has been tested, CRRT deployment and incident management have been executed,” Vice Minister of National Defence Margiris Abukevičius said about the exercise.

Vice Minister underscored that that the cyber threats of today are complex, potentially disruptive and affect several countries at the same time. “Exercise Alarmex 2021 has shown the EU CRRTs are a critically important and fully operational instrument for swift detection, recognition and mitigation of cyber incidents. This exercise has proven that the first of the kind in the EU, multilaterally formed CRRT has reached full operational capability,” said M. Abukevičius.

The objective of Exercise Alarmex 2021 was to test the multilateral decision-making process and the ability of CRRTs to effectively manage a complex cross-border cyber incident targeting diplomatic bodies across several EU countries.

As the Alarmex 2021 scenario goes, a EU member states suffers a large-scale cyber-attack on its embassy network requests assistance. Within 24 hours, the countries forming the CRRT takes a political decision to activate the CRRT and it expeditiously deploys on the ground to mitigate the cyber incidents in Lithuania and Poland.

The EU CRRTs are formed by six member states – Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania. Poland leads the rotation of the Lithuanian-coordinated PESCO project this year. The technical part of the exercise was arranged by the Dutch Defense Cyber Security Center and the Cyber Security Lab of the Institute of Computer Science of Vilnius University.

The Cyber Rapid Response Teams developed in the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework are designed to assist the EU Member States, EU Institutions, and the EU CSDP missions and operations, as well as to partner countries, this way contributing to the EU common efforts to prevent, deter and to respond to cyber incidents. One more multilateral cyber exercise is scheduled to take place this year.

The Lithuanian-coordinated PESCO Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security project is among the most successfully developed and most advanced PESCO projects.

The aim of PESCO is to develop military capabilities for the EU military operations. Developed through cooperation of individual countries that have more experience and expertise in specific fields, PESCO projects span different areas. Lithuania has taken up to lead cyber cooperation.

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