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An exercise aimed to test the response to serious cybercrimes

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December 15, 2015

Hosted by the United Kingdom, several organizers are praising the success of a multi-nation exercise that aimed to test the response times to serious cybercrimes across a vast territory.

Exercise Silver Shadow (ESS), which was run by the National Crime Agency (NCA)’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and supported by the Home Office, saw various officers from 8 different countries come together to assess their collective response to a simulated cyber attack on a fictitious international petroleum company.

ESS took place over a week, starting on November 30, 2015 at the Cabinet Office’s Emergency Planning College in North Yorkshire.

The exercise tested how cybercrime investigators and legal prosecutors would work together in the event of a complex criminal incident spanning several different legal jurisdictions across eight countries.

ESS was made as realistic as possible by limiting communications between various teams, perhaps as if the attack had also affected communication systems or just to replicate inevitable language miscommunications and logistical barriers that are usually seen in the real world.

One goal was to stress test people by putting them through a life-like scenario. Exercise Silver Shadow also offered an opportunity to develop stronger operational partnerships between investigation teams and prosecutors.

ESS follows a pilot event to test and develop the interoperability between the UK’s cyber crime units, and cyber units within the Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs), police in Scotland and the police service of Northern Ireland back in October.

In a statement, Jamie Saunders, director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit said-- “Together, Silver Pilot and Silver Shadow form an important part of the NCCU’s efforts to prepare the UK response at regional, national and international levels to the ever-changing cyber crime threat."

“Overall, cybercrime is by its very nature international, with many of the criminals and the technical infrastructure they rely upon based overseas, and yet its impact is felt by real people and real businesses in communities across the United Kingdom,” he added.

Various representatives from Bulgaria, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, the Ukraine and the U.K., represented by the NCA’s NCCU and the United States, represented by the FBI, were all involved in ESS.

A representative from Europol’s Joint Cyber Action Taskforce (J-CAT) also took part as well.

The event platform was a specialist service called cybX, designed to prepare both private and public sector organizations for preventing and responding to serious cyber attacks.

On any given day, Russia, the Ukraine and China are often seen as global cybercrime hubs. The Ukraine was represented but not Russia and China, an absence that’s not difficult to understand in the context of international sanctions against the countries over the conflict in the Ukraine.

Even before then, co-operation with Russia and China on cybercrime efforts was irregular but not unprecedented, as evidenced by a successful prosecution of Russian nationals for running a DDoS extortion scam against U.K. bookmakers almost ten years ago.

Source: Exercise Silver Shadow (United Kingdom).

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