by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Cyber Defence Pledge Conference, London
Foreign Secretary Hunt,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first thank the United Kingdom for hosting this second conference on the Cyber Defence Pledge.
The United Kingdom has been strongly committed to the Pledge ever since we made the pledge at the Summit of Leaders and Heads of State and Governments in Warsaw in 2016.
And the UK has played a crucial role in making cyber a priority for our Alliance.
Hosting this conference here in London, at the National Cyber Security Centre, is a testimony to the strong commitment and the the leadership of the UK in the cyber domain.
This Centre is a model for national coordination, bringing together the best expertise to tackle a growing threat.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Cyber-attacks can be as damaging as conventional attacks. A single attack can inflict billions of dollars’ worth of damage to our economies, bring global companies to a standstill, paralyse our critical infrastructure, undermine our democracies and have a crippling impact on military capabilities.
Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, more complex and more destructive. From low-level attempts to technologically sophisticated attacks. They come from states, and non-state actors. From close to home and from very far away. And they affect each and every one of us.
NATO is not immune. We register suspicious events against NATO cyber systems every day. And cyber threats will become more dangerous with the development of new technologies. Such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep fakes.
These technologies are fundamentally changing the nature of warfare. As much as the industrial revolution did. NATO is adapting to this new reality.
NATO leaders have agreed that a cyber attack could trigger Article 5 of our founding treaty. Where an attack against one Ally is treated as an attack against all. NATO has designated cyberspace as a military domain.
Alongside land, sea and air. And at our Summit in Brussels last year, we agreed to establish a Cyberspace Operations Centre. At the heart of our military command structure. And we have agreed to integrate national cyber capabilities or offensive cyber into Alliance operations and missions. All of this has made NATO more effective in cyberspace.
The Cyber Defence Pledge is helping Allies boost their defences. They have strengthened their cyber capabilities, they have improved their legal and institutional frameworks, and they have increased the resources – people and money - devoted to confronting cyber threats.
As a result, we are tackling increasingly complex cyber threats faster and more efficiently. And we are more aware of the threats, more resilient to incidents. None of the attempts against NATO systems have compromised our networks. And none have affected our secure operations.
So Foreign Secretary, as you have just said, we also need to consider how we can deter attacks in cyberspace.
Part of the answer is in attribution. Cyber attackers must know that they will be exposed. As was the case last October, when authorities in the Netherlands, with the help of British experts, foiled an attack by Russia on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.
So Allies must be prepared to call out attacks.
And when needed, we must be ready to use our cyber capabilities to fight an enemy.
As some NATO Allies did, not least the UK, successfully in the campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
By using national cyber effects – or offensive cyber, they suppressed ISIS propaganda, degraded their ability to coordinate attacks,
and disrupted their recruitment of foreign fighters.
For deterrence to have full effect, potential attackers must know that we are not limited to respond in cyberspace when we are attacked in cyber space. We can and we will use the full range of capabilities at our disposal.
NATO leaders will meet here in London on 3-4 December. At this summit, bolstering our cyber defences and resilience will be a top priority. That is why I have convened a meeting of National Security Advisers at NATO Headquarters next week. This meeting will be the first of its kind for the Alliance. It is a recognition that hybrid threats, including cyber threats, need a whole of a government response.
It takes just a ‘click’ to send a cyber virus spreading across the globe. But it takes a global effort to stop it from inflicting chaos.
For 70 years, NATO has kept our people safe in the physical world. Now NATO needs to do the same in the cyber world.
To do that, we must keep the technological edge. And ensure we harness the potential benefits of new technologies. While minimizing any possible risks.
So our engagement with industry will become ever more important as technologies develop. Industry creates, innovates and operates.
NATO is making sure that Allies invest more in defence. And that they invest in the capabilities and technologies we need.
But cyber goes beyond technology.
The people behind the technology are just as important. We need to build a strong and diverse workforce of future cyber defenders.
For this, we must be smart about recruitment, and think about how to retain these highly skilled experts.
And ensure these skills are kept sharp through regular exercises, as we do through Cyber Coalition – one of the largest cyber defence exercises in the world.
That is why, in this conference, we are focusing on education and on training.
And Allies are taking innovative steps. A few examples are a Tech Academy in Luxembourg, student cyber competitions in Estonia, and the ‘CyberFirst’ programme here in the UK. These national initiatives contribute to NATO. And enable us to secure our cyber defence in the future.
At the same time we have to look beyond NATO. We all stand to benefit from a norms-based, predictable, and secure cyberspace.
So we have stepped-up our cooperation with the European Union. Together we uphold the international rules-based system, also in cyberspace. And together we promote stability and reduce the risk of conflict.
So Ladies and Gentlemen,
NATO is the most successful Alliance in history.
Because we have always been able to change when the world is changing.
And that is precisely what we are doing now.
When our security landscape is defined by new and emerging technologies.
We adapt to those changes and to those challenges.
By doing so, NATO will remain an anchor of peace and stability for generations to come.
So thank you very much and all the best with this conference.