At the Warsaw Summit this weekend NATO, as anticipated weeks ago, the alliance has officially recognised cyberspace as a military operational domain.
This means that the NATO alliance will respond with conventional weapons in case of a severe cyber attack confirming that the Internet is a new battlefield.
A cyber attack against the critical infrastructure of one of the NATO states can have real world consequence, for this reason, it is essential to improve cyber defense of the members.
What will happen now?
Designating cyberspace as an operational domain means that the NATO will spend a significant effort in improving cyber capabilities of its members, it is expected more focus on training and military planning. The cyber defence of the alliance will continue to be integrated into operational planning and its operations and missions
“Cyber attacks present a clear challenge to the security of the Alliance and could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack. We agreed in Wales that cyber defence is part of NATO’s core task of collective defence. Now, in Warsaw, we reaffirm NATO’s defensive mandate, and recognise cyberspace as a domain of operations in which NATO must defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea. This will improve NATO’s ability to protect and conduct operations across these domains and maintain our freedom of action and decision, in all circumstances.” states the Warsaw Summit Communiqué. “We continue to implement NATO’s Enhanced Policy on Cyber Defence and strengthen NATO’s cyber defence capabilities, benefiting from the latest cutting edge technologies.”
Each Ally is committed to improving its resilience to cyber attacks and the ability to promptly respond to cyber attacks, including in hybrid contexts. The Alliance aims to expand the scope of the NATO Cyber Range to allow allies in improving cyber capabilities and information sharing on threat and best practices.
“Together with the continuous adaptation of NATO’s cyber defence capabilities, this will reinforce the Alliance’s cyber defence. We are expanding the capabilities and scope of the NATO Cyber Range, where Allies can build skills, enhance expertise, and exchange best practices. We remain committed to close bilateral and multilateral cyber defence cooperation, including on information sharing and situational awareness, education, training, and exercises.” continues the statement.
The NATO intends to deepen cooperation with the EU who recently passed the new NIS directive that establishes minimum requirements for cyber-security on critical infrastructure operators.
If the cyber defence is considerable a must after the Warsaw summit, many experts are questioning about offensive cyber capabilities of Alliance. Almost every state is working to improve its offensive cyber capabilities too. I believe that it is crucial to understand how the member states and the entire alliance intends to operate on the offensive front. Will the NATO improve cyber offensive capabilities too? How?
Another aspect to consider is the response of non-NATO states to approach chosen by the Alliance on the cyber security matter.
Some experts speculate that a similar decision could speed up the militarization of the cyberspace, for sure it will raise the debate on Information Warfare and the need for a new legal framework to address these questions.
(Security Affairs –NATO, Warsaw Summit)