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Skilled reservists are needed to strengthen Finland’s cyber defences

Defence Forces C5 Agency
Publication date 8.4.2019 10.23
Press release

The Locked Shields 2019 cyber defence exercise provides the Finnish Defence Forces with an excellent opportunity to add new experts to its cyber defence reserve. The reservists are expected to possess skills that the Finnish Defence Forces can use in its own planning and operations.

The Finnish Defence Forces is taking part in the Locked Shields 2019 (LS19) cyber defence exercise, which will be held between 8 and 12 April 2019. About 20 reservists are selected to Finland’s national exercise organisation each year. In the selection criteria, the emphasis is on suitable skills and most of the reservists are engaged in cyber-related voluntary national defence activities.

The reservists come from education institutions, government agencies and private companies and they possess skills in a broad range of different areas, including legal, technical and communications expertise. The reservists have a particular high level of expertise in cyber world roles, such as digital forensics, information law as well as system maintenance tasks and information security specialist tasks.

Cyber specialist Mikko Kenttälä is taking part in the exercise as a member of the Blue Team (the defenders) for the third time. Before that, Kenttälä was also a member of the game organisation. He became an LS19 participant after attending a special course arranged by the National Defence Training Association of Finland. Kenttälä is the Managing Director of an information security start-up and is actively engaged in reservist activities and in the cyber security courses of the National Defence Training Association of Finland.

Expanding skills base through cooperation

For Kenttälä, participating in LS19 is a highly meaningful experience. After all, it provides a unique opportunity to train the skills needed in a life-fire cyber environment.

"In the exercise, I’m in charge of the technical Linux and online team. Organising defences is my core skill and this is also my task in LS19. The most interesting part of the exercise is to train your skills in accordance with the game scenario - how to get the exercise started, how to build the defending team and how to make the team and the defences into a smoothly functioning package. And all this in addition to the huge amount of technology involved. For me, testing new technologies and operating models in cooperation with other top cyber experts is the most important aspect of the exercise. During the preparatory stage, we learn new things and learn from each other," Kenttälä explains.

The exercise is expected to provide lessons on how Finnish Defence Forces personnel are able to work under pressure, and, in particular, expert views on how civilian skills support military capabilities in a cyber operating environment.

"Most of Finland’s information security experts work in the civilian sector and reservists are a valuable addition to the expertise base of the Finnish Defence Forces. The skills base can be expanded through cooperation," Kenttälä concludes.