In a move that should set a strong precedent for many nations to follow in future, Taiwan is set to host the fourth edition of its Cyber Offensive and Defensive Exercise (Code). This year’s edition, beginning with a seminar on hacking practices adopted by North Korea, marks the first instance of multi-national cyber security collaboration being undertaken to combat increasing threats from state-sponsored threat actors targeting industries to cripple nations. While the Code drill has been undertaken by Taiwan every year since 2013, this year will be the first time when Taiwan will accept participation from other nations in what is a super sensitive drill.
Reported first in The Financial Times, this year’s Code drill will see participation from USA, Japan, Malaysia and Czech Republic alongside Taiwanese government and military officials. As part of the drill, the foreign nations and certain members from Taiwan will form a team to simulate crippling cyber attacks on Taiwan’s financial sector, while an internal team from Taiwan will attempt to thwart the advances of the cyber attackers. The report further states that cyber security officials from six other nations will also be observing this drill.
The move is a necessary one as cyber attacks continue to mount on Taiwan. While the geographical origin of such Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actors cannot be conclusively identified, China has long been said to be behind the attacks mounting on Taiwan. The latter is a significant hub of manufacturing and development in consumer technology, with a host of trade secrets, strategic developments, patents and sensitive documents supporting the Taiwanese economy. If not safeguarded, Taiwan stands at risk of what may develop into an economic crisis. This year’s multi-national cyber defense collaboration, to be hosted at Code between Wednesday, November 6 and Friday, November 8, is a nod to acknowledge the active cyber warfare network of today, and a potentially precedence-setting move.
With state-sponsored cyber terrorism on the rise, actions such as Code will become increasingly important to safeguard developing economies, as well as developed economic superpowers. So far, larger initiatives such as the annual Locked Shields exercise by NATO nations, and the more recent Global Epic initiative by a conglomerate of cyber security ecosystems, have been attempting to establish and highlight the importance of global cooperation in a bid to innovate, develop and establish stronger cyber security norms. However, Taiwan’s multi-nation approach to its national cyber security exercise marks the first time that a nation has opened its gates to allies in order to develop its own stature in cyber security.
Beyond the strategic benefits, according to sources that FT spoke to, participants believe that the presence of international teams can also accurately simulate the high pressure environment that a crippling cyber attack on sensitive sectors can create, which during this drill should play to Taiwan’s favour. While the week-long seminar kicked off today, the cyber defense drills will run from Wednesday, through Friday.
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