Brazilian Army Offers International Cyberdefense Training
By Taciana Moury/Diálogo June 15, 2018The Electronic Warfare Training Center (CIGE, in Portuguese), a unit of the Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) headquartered in Brasilia, Federal District, held the Third International Cyberdefense Workshop for Partner Nation Officers, May 14-25, 2018. The annual event brought together service members from 17 countries, including Argentina, Chile, the United States, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Suriname, as well as representatives from the Brazilian Federal Police. The objective is to share cybernetic knowledge, disseminate new technologies and methods of operations, and foster integration and cooperation among the armed forces of participating countries.
According to EB Colonel Luiz Carlos Soares de Sousa, commander of CIGE, international participation increases every year. “In 2016, there were nine participating countries at the first workshop; the following year, there were 11; and this year , we were able to gather 17 countries from different continents. We intend to expand the number of representatives every year, since cooperation and synergy are important factors in cyberdefense,” Col. Luiz Carlos said.
The workshop provides a great networking opportunity for participants, bringing partner nations together so they can work on cyberdefense, the officer explained. “It’s a new field that requires a lot of cooperation and integration, so we need to share our experiences and expertise. The more diverse the countries involved, the more we all benefit,” Col. Luiz Carlos said.
The workshop, offered with simultaneous translation in English and Spanish, included topics on reverse engineering malware, where experts presented methodologies to identify malware around the world. Encryption techniques and forensic analysis of Linux and Windows systems were other themes touched on.
On the last day of the workshop, students got to put their newly acquired knowledge to the test. “Every participant had to come up with a solution to the proposed problems. Each exercise solved resulted in one point earned. In the end, the person who solved the most problems won,” explained Col. Luiz Carlos.
CIGE used its Cyberwarfare Operations Simulator (SIMOC, in Portuguese) to run the exercises. The platform, created in Brazil, enables virtualization of corporate infrastructure, analysis of malicious devices, and possible solutions to protect institutional systems in a closed network, without creating real vulnerabilities during the exercise. CIGE uses SIMOC as a foundation for all its training courses.
This year, Brazil won first place in the competition, followed by Spain and Portugal. “It’s a way to challenge them and make the activity more dynamic. But, the overriding purpose is to share knowledge and practice what we learned,” Col. Luiz Carlos said.
Participants impressed by technical quality
Brazilian Army Captain Thiago Itamar Plum, one of the participants, highlighted the quality of instructors and the information shared among international service members. “We have countries from NATO, South America, Africa, and Asia working in many different ways for the same objective,” Capt. Itamar said.
The officer who works at the Cyberdefense Center said that his participation in the activity will better prepare him to deal with the sector’s problems. “Due to the technical and practical nature of the workshop, problems could be solved by learning the best techniques and tools the various participating countries use,” Capt. Itamar said.
“I learned some different tricks and methods from those I normally use, which are going to help diminish my investigating time,” Spanish Army Captain Julio Rodrigues Romero told Diálogo. The officer, who works at the Spanish Army Security Operations Center, praised this opportunity to find out how cyberdefense is developed globally in the armed forces.
Working with other participant’s added value to the experience, Capt. Rodrigues said. “I am leaving this workshop with a long list of contacts and a lot of documents, protocols, and updates that will greatly contribute to my work,” he said.
For U.S. Army Major Michael J. Hill, the course improved his knowledge both in the field of cyberdefense and for his duties at the U.S. Embassy in Brazil. “I work in security cooperation with Latin American countries, and nearly all of them were represented at this course,” Maj. Hill said. “The course covered the most important aspects of cyberdefense, always making them applicable to the armed forces. Cybernetics is a language spoken worldwide, and there will always be integration.”
Chilean Army Captain Enrique Letelier Hermosilla emphasized learning about the preparation of Brazilian officers who work in the cyberdefense sector. According to him, Brazil’s technical quality is a benchmark for other countries. “I plan on preparing some drafts on everything I learned during this course to adapt the training methodology to my country’s reality,” Capt. Letelier said.
The officer pointed out that cyberdefense is part of a new dimension, unlike defending land, sea, or air, and there is no way of establishing limits or borders for attack. As such, cooperation among neighboring countries is essential. “Students had varying levels of knowledge, but the problems that we all face in our respective countries are very similar, so teamwork is always a plus,” Capt. Letelier said.
Continuing education throughout the year
According to Brazil’s National Defense Strategy, established in 2008, cyberdefense is EB’s responsibility. CIGE has been training people in electronic warfare operations for 34 years, and started teaching cyberdefense courses in 2012.
The center trains service members on two of EB’s strategic projects: cyberdefense and the Integrated Border Monitoring System. To that end, CIGE offers training courses and workshops throughout the year to more than 2,000 students. “We get service members from the Brazilian Air Force and Navy, as well as government staff from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency and the Federal Police,” Col. Luiz Carlos said.
He also pointed out that the workshop adds a wealth of knowledge to the center. “As a hands-on, collaborative event, it lets instructors pick up on participants’ techniques and work methods, in addition to enabling outreach with partner nations,” he said.