Exercise Cyber Challenge, making of a modern military

Participants team up to complete a challenge during exercise Cyber Challenge last year.

Participants team up to complete a challenge during exercise Cyber Challenge last year.


Cyberspace is critical for the conduct of modern military operations, and is recognized as a domain of operations such as air, sea, land and space.

Canada’s vision for defence includes a commitment to invest in and evolve its cyber capabilities, and to grow and enhance the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Cyber Force.

To help achieve this, events such as Exercise Cyber Challenge are designed to help maintain cyber related skills and identify personnel with strengths and aptitudes for potential employment in the CAF Cyber Force.

On May 13, 40 Regular and Reserve Force members from across Canada will participate in Exercise Cyber Challenge 2018 in Kingston, Ontario.

“Exercise Cyber Challenge 2018 promises to be an exciting two days,” said Sgt Jeff Oshier, a Cyber Operator in the Directorate of Cyber Operations Force Development (D Cyber Ops FD). “After a day of pre-exercise coordination and training, teams of four will compete in a 36-hour ‘Jeopardy-style’ capture-the-flag competition to win the highly-prized Siebring Trophy.”

Indeed, team members will be presented challenges in categories such as cryptography and forensics, and awarded points according to difficulty and complexity. Some of these challenges will be exceptionally difficult to solve and will require team members to use their collective experience.

Last year’s exercise was hosted on a newly redesigned network developed and supported in-house at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics (CFSCE).

“It took the development team more than three months and 2,000 hours to create hundreds of challenges based on web and network vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, network defence techniques, and computer and network forensics,” said Sgt Oshier. “The same team continued development over the winter months to improve performance, redesign, add challenges, and create a new scoring methodology for this year’s exercise.”

“In addition to the improved challenges, there are rumours of new interactive challenges including ‘hackable’ staff badges and a remotely controlled foam ball gun,” he added with a smile.

Jointly conducted by D Cyber Ops FD and CFSCE, this will be the sixth event of this kind held since 2011. Organizers hope this year’s exercise will continue increasing awareness of the cyber domain, attract personnel to become part of the CAF Cyber Force, as well as shape the future of the cyber workforce.

This year is also unique in that there is an even split between Primary Reservists and Regular Force members, demonstrating the increasing role the Reserve Force can and will take in growing the CAF Cyber Force.

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