February 28, 2021

Cyber Conscription: Experience and Best Practice from Selected Countries

Ardi Hallismaa/ Estonian Defence Forces

Cyber conscription is quite a new phenomenon and there is no common definition of the term. Cyber conscripts may carry out a range of functions including technical cybersecurity and cyber defence, as well as IT support, programming and development. They may also serve in more traditional branches such as communications/signals, intelligence, and even social media.

This report aims to identify best practices in the use of conscripts and reservists with information and communications technology (ICT)-related education and/or experience, bearing in mind the limited time that they serve. It examines the selection, training and employment of cyber conscripts and reservists in six countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

In the countries analysed, the number of volunteers applying for cyber conscription exceeds the military’s needs—there is no immediate need to increase the attractiveness of this type of service. This may change, however, since several nations plan to increase the annual requirement for cyber conscripts. Interviews conducted for this report found that cyber conscripts receive basic military training that mostly follows a uniform pattern common to all conscripts. Only after completing basic military training are cyber conscripts given more specific training, including on cyberspace operations. Several of the armed forces of the countries studied cooperate with universities and have either developed or are planning to launch partnerships with the private sector. Some also provide cyber conscripts with training that gives them a specialist certificate or university credit points.

Our report makes recommendations for military authorities that should benefit the armed forces and the individual conscripts, as well as academia and the private sector.

Download and read: Cyber Conscription: Experience and Best Practice from Selected Countries (PDF)