New Zealand military personnel have jetted into the US for a major cyber terrorist attack exercise alongside other countries of the "Five Eyes" intelligence-gathering network.
The 16-strong New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) team is joining forces with around 2000 personnel from the Five Eyes partner nations in responding to attacks from a "dynamic and skilled adversary" during Exercise Cyber Flag 16.
The large-scale two-week training exercise began on Friday at a United States Department of defence facility in Suffolk, Virginia.
To ensure a realistic training environment, participants are using systems that simulate the allied information networks and adversary networks.
"Over a two-week period, we will be under constant bombardment from an opposing force that uses a range of tactics," said Wing Commander Rhys Taylor, Senior National Officer of the NZDF contingent.
"For our part, we will try to ensure military operations continue in the face of these cyber attacks.
"The nature and intensity of the attacks will differ for each of the participating nations so the learning potential for all participants is likely to be significant."
Teams from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States will respond to the cyber attacks as a coalition, allowing participants to practise interoperability and defence.
It is is the third consecutive year that the NZDF has participated in Exercise Cyber Flag, which began in 2010.
"Exercises such as Cyber Flag test participants' readiness and response capability so they are a great opportunity for us to learn how to better defend our networks while strengthening our relationships with partners," Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Tim Gall said.
"Although we are all using the same tools to defend our respective networks, it will be great to learn how other countries are using those tools to defend their systems."
Earlier this month, the Government revealed up to $20 billion will be spent on New Zealand's Defence Force over the next 15 years, and will include a greater focus on defending against cyber attacks.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said New Zealand had not come under attack by hackers or any other forces.
While Mr Brownlee would not give specific details about the scale of an expanded cyber security unit, but said it would be "significant"and was likely to work in co-operation with the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB).