NATO CCDCOE considers cyber-warfare cooperation

NATO CCDCOE urged to promote cooperation in training of cyber-defence experts as the cyber realm declared a theatre of war.

Cooperation in cyber-defence training urged by Finnish Defence Forces chief of general staff vice admiral
Cooperation in cyber-defence training urged by Finnish Defence Forces chief of general staff vice admiral

The need for international cooperation in training cyber-defence experts was emphasised by Finnish Defence Forces chief of general staff vice admiral Kari Juhani Takanen during his visit to the Tallinn-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia last Thursday.

“Finland is building up its cyber-defence capability and we need the most knowledgeable people,” Takanen said, adding that international cooperation is essential in training experts to counter hybrid threats

Reiterating recent NATO statements on cyber-warfare, Takanen added, “threats in cyber-space are real and it is rightfully becoming a domain of warfare. This means nations have to focus on operational issues in the digital space and laws often need to catch up with events on the ground.”

The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD COE) is a NATO-accredited knowledge hub, think-tank and training facility which focuses on interdisciplinary applied research and development, as well as consultation, training and exercises in cyber-security.

Last month, ahead of the NATO decision to classify cyber-space a theatre of war, a new cyber-policy brief published by the CCDCOE emphasised that the Alliance needs to clearly recognise that network defence does not equal collective defence in cyber-space and develop the full range of military capabilities to defend the Alliance and its interests.

The report, Is NATO Ready to Cross the Rubicon on Cyber Defence? by Matthijs Veenendaal, Kadri Kaska and Pascal Brangetto, looked at NATO and national military cyber-defence policies beyond the Warsaw Summit and lays tracks for the future and considered how Allies could best deploy cyber-capabilities in cooperative defence that goes beyond the current NATO policy on cyber defence.

“Recognising cyber-space as a domain of warfare would be an important step in the right direction. This will impel the Allies to define not only terms and definitions but also to establish common ambitions, procedures, and doctrine,” says the cyber-policy brief.

“Since 2002, NATO has invested significantly in improving the defence of its networks. However, NATO has shown little inclination to move away from its current purely defensive posture in cyber-defence,” the analysis reads. “In order to achieve a more mature and realistic cyber-defence posture, the Alliance must address two important issues. Firstly, it must clearly recognise that network defence does not equal collective defence in cyber-space. Secondly, given that NATO accepts the applicability of collective defence in cyber-space, Allies should develop the full range of military capabilities to defend the Alliance and its interests.”

The authors also called for developing a doctrine and procedures to allow for the use of cyber-capabilities as operational military capabilities. It needs to distinguish the policy mandate applicable to network defence in peacetime from the policy mandate applicable for cyber-operations in military operations and collective defence to ensure that it has the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against any threat in and through cyber-space.

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