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Improving interaction between energy sector operators to counter cyber threats effectively

The International Cyber Academy (Ukraine) and the European Cybersecurity Initiative (Estonia), in coordination with the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine and with the engagement of ISSP experts, conducted Table Top Exercises (TTX) for energy sector companies.

The main goal of the exercise was to develop mechanisms for responding to situations caused by cyber and hybrid threats in the energy sector of Ukraine.

The exercise was part of the project ‘Cybersecurity and Energy Resilience’ that undergoes under Development Cooperation Partnership (DCP, round 10), co-funded by the US Embassy in Ukraine and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia.

Deputy Energy Minister Yaroslav Demchenkov noted that russia continues to use cyberattacks in the war against Ukraine as a destabilizing factor influencing the energy sector. Thus, in 2023 alone, the State Special Communications Administration recorded more than 50 cyberattacks on energy companies.

David Schlaefer, Senior Assistance Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, noted that since the beginning of russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States has already provided more than $27 billion of economic and development assistance. ‘The next aid package of $61 billion has already been agreed, with $20 billion earmarked for development projects, including support for critical infrastructure in the field of cybersecurity. I would like to thank the organizers and partners for supporting the energy sector in such an important aspect as countering digital threats,’ said David Schlaefer.

In his turn, Vahur Soosaar, Deputy Head of Mission of the Estonian Embassy in Ukraine, emphasized that digitalization and increasing cybersecurity should go hand in hand. That is why Estonia is constantly supporting projects aimed at strengthening the cyberresilience of key sectors of the Ukrainian economy, including the energy sector.

The best cybersecurity specialists from 14 key energy sector operators took part in TTX. Representatives of the State Special Communications Service of Ukraine, the National Coordination Centre for Cybersecurity of the National Security and Defence Council, and the State Energy Supervision Inspectorate of Ukraine acted as observers.   

‘The practice of conducting TTX in Ukraine was introduced by the NCCC and enshrined in the Cybersecurity Strategy of Ukraine. They help to identify weaknesses in the mechanism of response to cyberthreats and eliminate existing gaps. In addition, sectoral TTX play an important role, particularly in the energy sector,’ said Natalia Tkachuk, Head of the Information Security and Cybersecurity Service of the NSDC Office.

The current TTX was a continuation of the activities carried out within the program "Fundamentals of Cyber Hygiene to Enhance the Resilience of the Energy Sector in Ukraine" (DCP, round 8).

‘Conducting a series of tabletop exercises for the energy sector will further increase the resilience of the sector to large-scale cyberattacks. The TTX exercise was organized using the innovative platform STRATEX (Estonia), which we introduced for the first time in this project. Overall, our experts are examining global and European practices in conducting sector-specific TTXs to expand the usage of this tool within our country. Additionally, we are incorporating unique scenarios tailored with consideration to the situation in Ukraine,’ summed up Valerii Tsiupa, President of the International Cyber Academy.


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