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Dec 16 2020

NATO Cyber Defensive capability as a spearhead and force multiplier

MONS, Belgium - NATO takes cyber threats very seriously and protects its own IT networks 24 hours a day from cyber-attacks as cyber threats to the security of the Alliance are becoming more frequent, more complex, and more destructive even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a strong military Alliance, NATO needs to continue investing in deterrence and defence; not only in tanks and bullets but also in cyber and other new capabilities

Conflicts between states are changing with cyberattacks. This challenging security environment requires NATO to think across the traditional domains of maritime, air and land and give relative new domains like cyber and space equal attention and consideration.

"As a strong military Alliance, NATO needs to continue investing in deterrence and defence; not only in tanks and bullets but also in cyber and other new capabilities," said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Riga Security Conference in 2020.

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NATO IT systems are protected 24 hours a day from cyber threats and cyber-attacks.

Cyber defence is the ability to safeguard the delivery and management of services in an operational Communication and Information System in response to potential and imminent as well as actual malicious actions that originate in cyberspace. Defensive Cyberspace Operations are defensive actions in or through cyberspace to preserve friendly freedom of action in cyberspace. Constantly stepping up its cyber defences as a part of collective defence, NATO remains vigilant, continues to adapt and has its own cyber strategy. NATO has made clear that a severe cyber-attack could trigger Article 5, which states that 'an attack on one, is regarded as an attack on all'.

The Cyberspace Domain of Operations is young, but no longer new

In essence, defensive actions in the cyberspace are taken to protect, to detect, to respond, and to recover from cyberattacks. It requires collective cooperation, information sharing, and the ability to analyse intelligence to create a common operating picture for situational awareness.

"The Cyberspace Domain of Operations is young, but no longer new. Cyberspace defenders must continually strive to improve the advice they give to Commanders so that they can make informed decisions just as in any other warfare domain," said Exercise Director, Commander Robert Buckles (US Navy) during CYBER COALITION exercise in 2020.

Trust is essential in Cyber Defence. New emerging and disruptive technologies are important, but in the end the Cyberspace Domain is still built and managed by people. Trust is gained through observable action; in NATO's Cyberspace Domain of Operations, we gain trust through day-to-day operations, collective training exercises, and building a professional network of cyberspace defenders.

Cyber Defence remains a joint effort. For decades defenders in the Land, Maritime, Air, and Special Operations Domains have worked together to protect and ensure the continued function of capabilities and assets, including networks, and information systems, critical to the execution of NATO missions in any operating environment. The Cyberspace Domain of Operations is no different - if neglected, it will quickly become the Achilles' heel of the joint mission. At the same time, if properly integrated and empowered, the Cyberspace Domain becomes not only a NATO spearhead but also a force multiplier.

Learn more on cyber and our annual cyber related exercises, watch the video


Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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