The new NATO military command center should be fully operational in 2023, among its tasks the defense of the critical infrastructure of member states and the ability to carry out cyber attacks according to rules of engagement still to be defined.
NATO alliance is aware of growing threats in the cyberspace and the new NATO military command center aims to respond them.
Each member of the alliance will contribute to the offensive cyber capabilities of the new military hub.
“While NATO does not have its own cyber weapons, the U.S.-led alliance established an operations center on Aug. 31 at its military hub in Belgium. The United States, Britain, Estonia and other allies have since offered their cyber capabilities.” reported the Reuters.
“This is an emerging domain and the threat is growing,” said Major General Wolfgang Renner, a German air force commander who oversees the new cyber operations center, or CYOC, in Mons.
“We have to be prepared, to be able to execute operations in cyberspace. We have already gone beyond protection and prevention,” he told Reuters during a NATO cyber conference.
A team of 70 cyber experts will be the pillar of the new NATO military command center that will gather and share information on various threat actors, including cybercrime syndicates, nation-state attackers, terrorists, and hacktivists.
According to the NATO Communication and Information Agency, the NATO communication and computer networks face hundreds of major attacks every month., China, North Korea, and Russia continuously target the infrastructure of the alliance with cyber espionage purposes.
Recent cyber espionage campaigns attributed to Russia have raised the debate inside the alliance about an urgent response to the aggressive cyber strategy of the Kremlin.
The European Union earlier last week discussed various responses to the attackers, including economic sanctions to countries that mounted the cyber attacks.
“Our ultimate aim is to be completely aware of our cyberspace, to understand minute-by-minute the state of our networks so that commanders can rely on them,” said Ian West, chief of cyber security at the NATO communication agency.
Let’s remind that NATO has recognized cyberspace as the fifth element of warfare, so the alliance could respond with conventional weapons in case of a powerful cyber attack.
NATO has warned that in the future any cyber attack against a member state could trigger a military response according to the alliance’s Article 5, mutual defence clause.
“Our concept of operations, a toolbox for short-notice decisions about how to respond, is not in place yet. This is one of the challenges we face,” Renner said.
“If NATO can agree cyber warfare principles, the alliance hopes to integrate individual nations’ cyber capabilities into alliance operations, coordinated through the Mons cyber operations center and under the command of NATO’s top general, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, or SACEUR.” continues the Reuters.
“That could allow the top general to take quick decisions on whether to use cyber weapons, similar to existing agreements for NATO’s air defenses and its ballistic missile shield, where a commander has only minutes to decide what action to take.”
(Security Affairs – NATO military command center, Information warfare)