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Locked Shields 2024: outstanding hungarian result

Text: First Lieutenant Gergely Szöllősi |  09:24 May 21, 2024

Hungary was represented again this year on the annual Locked Shield (LS) exercise, organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) since 2010. This time, the four-day exercise involved 18 teams from 40 countries, altogether nearly 4,000 experts. The Hungarian team took the prestigious fourth place.


During the world’s largest real-time cyber defence exercise, the participating teams had to ensure the operation, availability and usability of a virtual infrastructure of approximately 6,000 virtual systems set up by NATO CCDCOE in a virtual environment. In addition to classic office systems, the systems to be protected included 5G networks, cloud-based services, energy and industrial systems, military systems, including air defence and command and control systems.

Each team was tasked with the protection of the IT networks and critical infrastructures established in the infrastructure, as well as strategic decision-making, legal and strategic communication tasks related to any potentially damaging activities in the infrastructure. During the exercise, the defensive teams were rewarded with scores for the prevention of infrastructure attacks and malicious activities discovered in the system; however, scores were deducted whenever the “offensive” team put together by the organizers successfully attacked the infrastructure.

In a close race for the podium, Hungary, in a team with Slovakia, finished fourth this year, which is the best result so far in comparison to previous years. We finished the competition some 600 points behind the first place, only 160 points behind the podium, and 2500 points ahead of the fifth place. The effective cooperation of the Hungarian–Slovak team was demonstrated by the fact that the media, forensics, vulnerability and threat (Cyber Threat Intelligence, CTI) and client-side defence teams finished by podiuming in their respective categories.


The basic scenario of the LS24 exercise is a Red Team (offensive) – Blue Team (defensive) confrontation, where the latter is composed of partner nations from CCDCOE member countries, representing a collective defensive position. The focus was on realistic scenarios, state-of-the-art technologies and simulating the full complexity of a cyber incident targeting a large fictitious country, including the strategic decision-making, legal and communication aspects that were previously highlighted.

The main objective of the exercise is for professionals to test the knowledge acquired in their daily tasks, to test it in the artificial environment, and to be prepared to effectively manage and counter a possible cyber attack, even in an international environment (as part of a team or an allied force). Other objectives include maintaining the availability of (critical) infrastructure, preventing unauthorized access, preventing phishing and ensuring the secure use of data in infocommunication processes.

Locked_Shields map

The success of the exercise was actively supported by a series of training sessions carried out in the period preceding the exercise, which demonstrated the importance of joint thinking between the participants and the trainers in a challenging information space and environment. The in-country technical implementation of the exercise involved defence sector personnel, governmental organizations, public and civil society organizations with IT operator and cybersecurity expertise, as well as defence sector personnel with expertise in strategic decision-making, strategic communications and legal knowledge related to cyber incidents.

“Success is shared, it’s in the teamwork!” – added the Hungarian experts participating in the exercise. Congratulations to all the participants who have been involved in the organization and implementation of the exercise!