NATO readies for cyber threats

  • 16 Nov. 2020 -
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  • Last updated: 16 Nov. 2020 16:30

NATO’s biggest cyber defence exercise, the week-long Cyber Coalition started on Monday (16 November). The exercise aims to train cyber defenders in their ability to defend NATO and national networks and will test decision making processes and procedures.

On November 30, 2016, LTC Alex De Nijs,  Dutch Navy from Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Cyber Division Defense Operation department, scrutinize a live time cyber threat worldmap website during Exercise Cyber Coalition 16 in Tallin, Estonia.
This Cyber defense exercise, organized and run by NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT), will have participants from 27 NATO nations, numerous NATO Partner nations, NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) Technical &
Coordination Centres, the European Union Cyber Defence Staff, ensures that NATO and its Partners will be prepared to respond, collectively if necessary, when confronted by any threat and will be able to do so in accordance with international law, including the UN Charter, as applicable.
(NATO Photo by NIC Edouard Bocquet)

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said cyber threats are becoming more complex and disruptive. “NATO is committed to defend all Allies in cyberspace, as well as on land, in the air and at sea. A cyber-attack on one Ally can affect all of us. That is why strengthening our cyber defences is a priority for the Alliance,” she said.

Drawing inspiration from current-day threats, the exercise tests officials’ real-time responses to incidents, such as attempts to breach classified networks, disruption of communications systems in critical infrastructure and espionage through smartphone applications.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the exercise takes place virtually this year with cyber defenders connected through Estonia's Cyber Security Training Centre. About 1,000 officials and experts from across the NATO Alliance, four partner nations (Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland) and the European Union will take part.

Cyber security has moved to the top of NATO’s agenda in recent years and NATO protects its own IT networks 24 hours day. In 2014, NATO broadened the scope of its collective-defence commitment to cover severe cyber-attacks. In 2016, NATO declared cyber as an operational domain.  NATO has rapid reaction cyber defence teams on 24/7 standby help Allies. The Alliance has also set up a Cyberspace Operations Centre to increase its ability to respond.