The security of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance depends on reliable and unfettered access to information through a stable digital infrastructure.
U.S. European Command’s ongoing Cyber Endeavor program ensures just that for U.S. and European
Fifteen nations came together here to participate in a three-day cyber defense collaboration and
familiarization workshop aimed at strengthening international capabilities.
Initially, Cyber Endeavor began as a component of USEUCOM’s large-scale cyber defense exercise,
Combined Endeavor. Over the past nine years however, it developed into a standalone program
comprised of quarterly seminars held in locations all over Europe. This was the third event held in 2018, with the previous workshops taking place in the Czech Republic and Croatia.
“We established this program as a way to improve the network defense postures of the U.S., NATO and our European partners,” said Jim Hansis, USEUCOM cyber security cooperation program manager.
Modern society’s day-to-day reliance on information networks, in both the defense and private sectors,
underlines the importance of cyber readiness and taking proactive steps to reduce vulnerabilities.
Cyberattacks from malign actors all over the world occur on a daily basis, which is one of the reasons
USEUCOM has made working collectively with other nations to address security challenges a priority for the command, Hansis said. “Bolstering relationships in the cyber domain is one of the best ways we can preempt actions our adversaries would take against us.”
Each year Cyber Endeavor exercise focuses on one of five core functions outlined in the U.S. National
Institute of Standards and Technology framework. The NIST points to these competencies as the
fundamental building blocks of an effective cyber defense strategy. For 2018, USEUCOM has
concentrated on responding to cybersecurity incidents, while past and future focus areas for the program include identification, protection, detection and recovery.
In line with direction from the U.S. Department of Defense’s recently published 2018 Cyber Strategy,
USEUCOM has harnessed trusted partnerships across the department and the private sector to provide the most pertinent training possible. Speakers included representatives from the Maine Army National Guard and Cisco.
On average, 30 personnel participate in each quarterly event and more than 35 subject matter experts
attended this iteration, including personnel representing the armed forces of Albania, Croatia, Ukraine,
Latvia and others.
Col. Božo Đurović, Chief of the Armed Forces of Montenegro’s Information and Communication
Systems Department, said his nation volunteered to host the most recent Cyber Endeavor seminar to
support USEUCOM’s efforts and in recognition of shared responsibilities.
“NATO, and partner nations, have to protect the cyber domain. We have to provide for our forces and
commanders to be able to conduct the full spectrum of operations through all dimensions and all
domains,” said Đurović.
Đurović believes opportunities for nations to train and learn alongside one another are critical in
increasing interoperability and digital security across borders.
“There is no border for cyber. Cyber security is a part of our life, and we cannot defend ourselves alone,” Đurović, said. “Montenegro recognizes that cyber security is one of the biggest threats and issues nowadays.”
Arde Jgonbrtaj, a network engineer who works for the Albanian Armed Forces, thinks that his
participation in the exercise has provided invaluable insight into cybersecurity best practices that will
enhance NATO’s comprehensive capabilities.
“It’s been a very good collaboration between us because now we can apply the best security models in our countries,” Jgonbrtaj said. “Let’s increase the collaboration and interoperability between people by
organizing more events about cyber security.”
USEUCOM’s focus on improving interoperability and the defensive capabilities of its partners and allies
will continue with future Cyber Endeavor events. The next seminar is scheduled for November and will
be hosted by the government of Portugal in Lisbon.
USEUCOM’s focus on cyber operations rounds out their commitment to providing a multi-domain joint
force ready for any operation across the NATO area of operations.