100 soldiers from across the Royal Signals took part in the inaugural cyber warfare competition at the Strategic Command Battle Labs, Shrivenham. Named Exercise Mercury Cypher, the competition set mixed teams of novice and cyber experts difficult cyber warfare challenges to complete under time pressure in a gaming environment.
Between 20-24 January, the inaugural Ex Mercury Cypher was completed at the Strategic Command Battle Labs, part of the Defence College at Shrivenham, Wiltshire. Established and run as part of the Royal Signals 100 centenary celebrations, the exercise was intended to challenge teams from across the Corps in cyber warfare.
The exercise used a computer programme called Project ARES, a gaming system that uses AI to create different cyber challenges. The first few days were spent learning the system, then the teams were set different tasks such a defending an imaginary corporation from cyber attack.
Players were scored on speed, accuracy, and efficiency, and marked down if they needed hints from the programme to complete their mission.
Organiser and planner Maj Fielding said, ‘We have been constantly learning during the build and execution of this exercise and I know that everyone taking part will leave with more cyber knowledge than when they started – I know I certainly have.’
Capt Miller who took part said, ‘It was a fantastic week with a steep learning curve for most who took part, but it increased cyber knowledge. We can’t wait for the Army-run Cyber Spartan Competition next month at Blandford.’
Over 100 soldiers took part, but it was a team from 216 (Para) Signal Squadron that emerged victorious as Best Team, and Cyber ISOC won Best Unit.