Brussels, 6 January 2022 (TDI): Yesterday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization highlighted cybersecurity as a prominently concerning issue for the organization. This is because the attacks are coercive and have gotten increasingly frequent.

This issue is of grave importance as the organization is greatly dependent on strong cyber defenses. Particularly to carry out its functions in securing the European Union. To strengthen their defenses, NATO has introduced a new defense policy to protect the EU from cyber threats. Thus, it acts to manage the networks along with collective defenses.

Besides that, NATO’s main aim and focus are related to protecting its missions and operations in cybersecurity networks. Therefore, it can increase the level of reliance on its systems.

Previous efforts made to enhance cybersecurity 

Along these lines, the alliances in the organization pledged back in 2016. NATO promised to enhance its security systems and has lived up to this claim to this date. This is one of the reasons why NATO has increased the number of capabilities regarding cybersecurity education.

Therefore, to assist the allied members, the NATO Cyber Rapid Reaction is available to help them with any problems they face 24/7. Furthermore, the EU in cooperation with NATO signed a Technical Arrangement for Cyber Defense in the February of 2016 due to the common challenges faced by the two.

In addition, in 2018, an innovative Cyberspace Operations Center was set up by the allied forces to strengthen NATO’s defenses. The allies also set up several tools to defend themselves against malicious attacks in 2019.

Two years later in Brussels, NATO carried out a new Comprehensive Cyber Defense Policy in support of its core tasks. Likewise, it endorsed which could pose to increase in deterrence against cybersecurity threats.

Increasing NATO’s Cyber Defense Security capacities

It is expected that the organization will enhance the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) which is based on SHAPE and protects NATO’s networks as it consistently maintains the security networks’ defenses, is expected to be enhanced based on the dynamic changing cyber security environment.

Furthermore, NATO members go forth with a common approach to develop cybersecurity defenses by defining the targets. These are important for each of the alliances so they can upgrade their security defenses through NATO Defense Planning Process.

Moreover, NATO has also incorporated its defense policies with its Smart Defense Initiatives. These initiatives push worldwide countries to work with each other in defenses development. This through software and tools that would have otherwise been too costly.

Similarly, the Malware Information Sharing Platform (MISP), and Smart Defense Multinational Cyber Defense Capability Development (MN CD2) project are amongst the many tools available to the countries that have access to the Smart Defense Initiatives.

While NATO continues to assist its alliances with its work, it also provides them with the platform to help other weaker alliances develop their defense capabilities.

NATO cybersecurity developments per country 

One of the many developments also includes the setting up of the Cyberspace Operations Centre within Belgium. This center assists commanders within the military in regards to awareness of various problematic security situations. Therefore, the Alliance’s missions and operations aim to adhere to these problematic situations.

For those reasons, NATO regularly conducts exercises amongst the many including the Cyber Coalition Exercise as well as the Crisis Management Exercise (CMX). Both of them test the cyber defenses of all defenses within the region.

On account of raising situational awareness, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) was updated in terms of the cybersecurity defense between the NATO alliances. They made arrangements to assist the exchange of information by enhancing the cybersecurity information related to defense and resilience.

NATO discusses enhancements on cybersecurity policy in 2021 NATO summit in Brussels
NATO discusses enhancements on cybersecurity policy in 2021 NATO summit in Brussels.

In Tallinn, Estonia the Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCD CoE) of NATO acts as up-to-date teaching, training, and research center. It develops experts and new approaches to enhancing the resilience of cyber security.

Similarly, the NATO academy in Portugal carries out such tasks as training professionals to develop new forms of defense. Especially related to the changing dynamic of cybersecurity. In addition to that, the NIC academy (Communications and Information Academy) is carrying out several operations to maintain and secure networks across the region.

Another center is located in Germany where there are security policy-related discussions and pieces of training taking place. While the NATO Defense College (s) in Italy and Rome respectively are dealing with military and pollical related cyber threats.

NATO and partner countries

Borders don’t define cybersecurity threats. That is why NATO is working hard with its member countries to alleviate such a national threat. This engagement bases its work on mutual interests according to the cases that present to them.

cybsersecurity remains a high priority for NATO and ist allies
Cybersecurity remains a high priority for NATO and its allies.

Apart from the EU and alliances, NATO is a partner with the United Nations (UN) along with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

However, the EU still stands as its major ally when it comes to such threats, as both face similar threats, the two already have continued exchanges between their mutual Cyber Crisis Response Teams and even have exchange practices.

Last year, the NATO summit took place in June, the allies confirmed their responsibilities and partnerships with the organization, acting out their duties following international law as well as with the UN Charter.

In cooperation with industries

Given the fact that the private sector plays a significant role when it comes to cyber defenses and networks. NATO signed a partnership with the organizations within the private sector called the NATO Industry Cyber Partnership (NICP) where the allies along with the organization work together with members of the private sector.

This is to enhance their relationship further. Members of this partnership include the representatives of various industries. There are also other NATO entities such as the Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and its work with the Member States.

Cybersecurity: policy, governance, and implementation

The implementation of NATO’s Comprehensive Cyber Defense Policy depends mostly on the organization’s military, political and technical sovereigns. When it comes to the implementation of the policy, NATO ensures the provision of high-level oversight to ensure success.

The political governance and the cyber defense policy are led and designed by the Cyber Defense Committee.  When it comes to the coordination of managing the cyber defenses throughout civilian as well as military bodies of the NATO, the Cyber Defense Management Board (CDMB) takes responsibility.

In terms of specific technicalities concerning the implementation of NATO defense policies, NATO has a board called the Consultation, Control and Command (NC3) which overlooks such work and responsibilities. Identifying potential operations, the acquisition, as well as the implementation of such operations, lies within the hands of NATO’s military authorities (NMA) and Communications and Information Agency (NCIA).

Finally, the NCIA works with the technical center in Belgium to provide technical support in cybersecurity. This technical report plays an essential role in handling all reports for all incidents. Besides, it serves as the hub for system security management between NATO members.