03 Jun 2013

Ministers meet to review NATO cyber defences

Defence ministers from NATO’s 28 member states met last week, with cyber-defence top of the agenda amid concerns about the threat posed by increasing cyber-attacks.

Newly appointed US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who was attending his first NATO meeting since taking office, has made this issue a priority.

NATO has said that the growing sophistication of cyber attacks makes the protection of the Alliance’s information and communications systems a priority. Electronic attacks could be used to knock out military communications and disable key infrastructure to soften a country up for a conventional military strike.

NATO was alerted to the level of threat posed by cyber attacks in 2007 after Estonia’s network was paralyzed by an electronic attack.

In response, NATO Defence Ministers approved a revised NATO Policy on Cyber Defence, a policy that sets out a clear vision for efforts in cyber defence throughout the Alliance, and an associated Action Plan for its implementation. This policy offers a coordinated approach to cyber defence across the Alliance with a focus on preventing cyber attacks and building resilience.

The agency will facilitate bringing all NATO bodies under centralized protection and provide significant operational benefits and long-term cost savings.

From this year, all NATO allies are committed to introducing a national policy on cyber defense, a national cyber defense authority and an instant response capability to cyber threats.