A NATO-accredited entity said they reached new levels of cooperation during the organization’s annual cyber exercise, an event that combined technical skills with kinetic force and the input of Cyber Commands’ members.

This year, over 120 technical experts, Special Forces and military operators worked to test the skills needed to execute a cyber operation, including the testing of offensive cyber capabilities. Six countries were part of the Cyber Command element at the event, known as Crossed Swords and organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence, an independent research, training and exercise hub.

For the event, held from Jan. 21 to Jan. 23, Crossed Swords hosted 26 nations, up from 15 countries that attended in 2018, according to a Jan. 27 press release.

“Training tasks, such as attribution and the collaboration of units from very different fields and nations with integrating sub-teams, are meant to push participants out of their comfort zone," said Bernhards Blumbergs, a cybersecurity expert from CERT.LV, Latvia’s Information Technology Security Incident Response Institution, which helped organize the exercise. “This is when learning happens.”

Crossed Swords focuses on the coordination and cooperation between civilian and military professionals through “highly experimental, yet authentic and challenging” cyber enabled joint operations, according to a release.

For many participants, Crossed Swords is a preparation for Locked Shields, another exercise organized by the NATO-accredited military organization Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. There, cybersecurity experts practice protecting critical infrastructure during a severe cyberattack.

Chiara Vercellone is a reporter interning with Defense News, C4ISRNET and Fifth Domain Cyber

More In Daily Brief