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UK cyber-security exercise for Cypriot officials

20210701 cybersecurity2
British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie addressing the exercise aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth

The United Kingdom and the Republic of Cyprus have taken a further step to deepen security cooperation with the launch of a new cyber training programme, the British High Commission said on Friday.

Officials from the UK Ministry of Defence hosted on Thursday a cyber-security event including the delivery of a cyber-training exercise for Cypriot officials from a breadth of organisations including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Shipping Ministry, Cyprus Police and the Digital Security Authority.

The exercise is designed to deepen awareness around the risks of major cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure, and to help plan a cross-Government response to such an attack. During the exercise participants explored the consequences of cyber-attacks on a port’s IT infrastructure with the aim of developing a better understanding of how to defend against such threats.

The cyber exercise in question has been gifted by the UK to the Republic of Cyprus so that training can be rolled out across the range of government bodies tasked with countering the cyber threat. The exercise will also form part of the Republic’s wider training package through the Cyprus Centre for Land, Open-Seas, and Port Security (CYCLOPS) training centre which has been established with support from the US.

When CYCLOPS becomes operational at the start of 2022, it will offer a regional training platform allowing the Republic to gather and train partners from across the region on key security issues including cyber security.

Paul Maddinson, Director of National Resilience and Strategy at the UK National Cyber Security Centre, who opened the event with remarks via video, said:  “Our adversaries in cyberspace know no geographical boundaries and that’s why our international partnerships play a crucial role in tackling shared online threats. The new cyber training exercise gifted to Cyprus by the UK Defence Academy will help officials stay alert to the risk of cyber attacks and ensure they are well-prepared to respond should an incident take place. We are committed to working with our allies to increase the cyber resilience of our networks to ensure we are the hardest possible targets for those that seek to do us harm.”

British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie, who also joined the event said: “It is fantastic to have the Carrier Strike Group here in Cyprus as a visible demonstration of the UK’s enduring commitment to the security of the island and the region as a whole. The threat from cyber attacks is just one of the challenges we face in terms of safeguarding our national security, and we are keen to work with the Republic to share expertise and develop a common approach to these threats. A free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace will be a crucial part of the future development of our economies, especially as we look to build-back better after Covid. In line with the UK’s vision of being a leading responsible cyber power, we are committed to working with our partners across the Commonwealth and the globe to ensure our online infrastructure and economies are resilient to those who might seek to attack them”.

The exercise took place upon HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s new flagship, which is visiting Cyprus as part of the UK Carrier Strike Group operational deployment. The 65,000-tonne carrier which entered into service in 2017 has played a key role in military exercises designed to simulate and defend against threats of all types, across land, sea and air, and in cyberspace.

 

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