Activation of first capability developed under EU PESCO points to strength of cooperation in cyber defence


For the first time, a capability developed within the framework of EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) project has been formally activated in an operational context. The Lithuania-coordinated Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security (CRRTs) typically consists of 8-12 cybersecurity experts pooled from six participating EU Member States – Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania – who can provide assistance in the event of a cyber incident. This week, the CRRTs were activated following a request from Ukraine to help the country's institutions facing cybersecurity challenges.
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The Lithuania-coordinated Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security (CRRTs) typically consists of 8-12 cybersecurity experts pooled from six participating EU Member States (Picture source: EDA)


The Cyber Rapid Response Teams project was launched within the first wave of PESCO projects and has been operational since 2019. CRTT was the first of the currently 60 PESCO projects to reach full operational capability (FOC) in May 2021. The cyber experts pooled within the project are available to assist EU Member States, EU institutions, EU CSDP missions and operations as well as partner countries, contributing to the EU common capacity to prevent, deter and to respond to cyber threats.

EDA also brought its cyber expertise to bear within the project in its early stages, supporting the project for one year (November 2018-2019). EDA’s Information Superiority Unit provided its expert advice on cyber defence and cyber security technology, especially in the development of cyber toolkits for Cyber Rapid Response Teams. EDA continues its cutting-edge work in cyber defence through its cyber defence programme and trainings.

EDA Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý said: “This marks an important moment in the continued development of PESCO from rhetoric to reality. The Cyber Rapid Response Teams capability shows how defence cooperation projects have an inherent value and benefit from pooled resources and joint expertise. I am proud that EDA helped support this project in its early stages and its activation as an operational capability underscored that PESCO is becoming more operational and beginning to deliver on its aims.

PESCO remains a process for European defence cooperation, an additional 25 projects are expected to deliver concrete results by 2025. EDA has already provided support to eight PESCO projects and stands ready to support its Member States going forward”.

Cyber Rapid Response Teams (CRRTs) allow the Member States to help each other to ensure a higher level of cyber resilience and collectively respond to cyber incidents. CRTTs are equipped with commonly developed deployable cyber toolkits designed to detect, recognise and mitigate cyber threats. Teams would be able to assist with training, vulnerability assessments and other requested support. In practical terms, this could mean support in monitoring the threat landscape, detecting and mitigating of cyber-attacks or supporting the further investigation of cyber-attacks.

Cyber support for Ukraine postponed due to war

The European Union postponed the deployment of a European cybersecurity team to support Ukraine in the digital field due to the outbreak of the war, two sources told NU.nl. The team's deployment was announced on Tuesday, February 22, two days before Vladimir Putin ordered a "special military action" in Ukraine. The intention was that the team, which includes experts from the Netherlands, would go to Ukraine to help the country protect itself against cyberattacks from Russia. But that plan was scrapped when Russia started physically attacking the country on Thursday.

The physical deployment of the Cyber ​​Rapid Response Team (CRRT) experts has been postponed, the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense confirmed to NU.nl. Lithuania coordinates the CRRT. It includes experts from the Netherlands, Croatia, Estonia, Poland, and Romania. The CRRT council will meet again to see how the experts can support Ukraine, the Lithuanian Ministry said.


 

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