NATO Cyber Defence Center taps the Defense Information Systems Agency as U.S. team lead for intense cyberattack challenge

DISA will lead the U.S. blue team for third consecutive year

Office of Strategic Communication and Public Affairs
February 1, 2023

The critical infrastructure of the United States, and that of our allies, is increasingly at risk of cyber-attack by nation-states and international criminal organizations. Cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructure present the most strategic risks to national security, financial institutions and economic prosperity, transportation, and public health and safety.

To readily identify a potential cybersecurity attack, the United States partners with our NATO allies in an annual exercise that enables cyber security and IT experts to enhance their skills in defending IT systems and critical infrastructure under real-time attacks. 

Locked Shields is an annual exercise organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) and is considered the most intensive test of cyber defense skills integrated into an operational and strategic environment that sets a robust, highly skilled CCDCOE Red Team cyberattack against 24 cyber-defense joint Blue Teams. (See: Locked Shields 2022 – YouTube). 

CCDCOE has selected the Defense Information Systems Agency to lead the U.S. team for the third consecutive year. In this role, DISA will facilitate the U.S. Blue team, provide training, guidance and leadership throughout the planning process and execution of the exercise. DISA’s involvement in the exercise aligns with the agency’s support of the National Defense Strategy to help defend the homeland and deter strategic attacks against the United States, our allies and partners.

This year’s exercise will take place April 17-21. The U.S. team will operate out of the Morgantown Armory in Morgantown, West Virginia. 

Fred Ruonavar, DISA Mission Assurance chief, heads up the U.S. team that will consist of 120 members from six universities, five National Guard units, the U.S. Cyber Command, Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, U.S. European Command and the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Participating in Locked Shields 2023 is an excellent opportunity for IT and cyber professionals to hon their skills, said Ruonavar.

Volunteers needed from across the DOD

“The U.S. Locked Shields team is looking for individuals who have strong cyber skills in either IT or operational technologies,” said Ruonavar. “The team is looking for personnel who possess legal, public affairs, strategic communications and programmatic skills,”

he said, adding that individuals can be either military or civilian.

The exercise will take place April 17-21 and the U.S. team will operate out of the Morgantown Armory in Morgantown, West Virginia.

“Supporting Locked Shields 2023 will enable participants to experience the full spectrum of cyber operations, how cyber-attacks impact military operations and impact nation-state stabilization,”

said Ruonavar.

Any DOD civilians or military personnel wishing to participate in Locked Shields 2023 should contact MAJ William Keber or Ms. Tiffany Clark no later than February 15. 


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