National Guard opens cyber-defense center

Latvia's reserve forces, the National Guard (Zemessardze) opened a dedicated cyber-defence and IT security center on January 14, the Defense Ministry reported Thursday.

Minister of Defense Raimonds Vējonis and Armed Forces Commander Raimonds Graube opened the new facility at the National Guard's headquarters in Riga.

The premises will be used for cyber-defence training, technical and operational exercises and analyzing security threats, the ministry said.

"Cyberspace may seem impersonal but it involves specific people and having our cyber-guards in there will help guarantee our security," Vējonis said at the opening ceremony.

"Their work will be an ongoing challenge, because there will be more new threats, which can only be countered by patriotic, educated and talented people. I am sure that cyber defense unit contribution to defense and national security as a whole will be invaluable," Vējonis  said.

Currently 48 "cyberguards" plus one regular soldier are staffing the center, with interest in the facility twice as high as anticipated, as it was designed for a staff of 20.

Cyber-guards, many of whom are students, have already participated in several NATO training exercises and 2015 is expected to see the development of a training programme and further expansion until capacity of 94 cyber-guards and and four professional soldiers is reached.

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