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NATO countries to mull options for mutual cyber assistance

Jun. 6, 2013 - 02:42PM   |  
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BRUSSELS — NATO defense ministers will be presented with options later this year as to how the organization could help member countries in the event of a cyber attack, according to a NATO official.

“We agreed that we will continue our discussion at our next meeting in October on how NATO can support and assist allies who request assistance if they come under cyber attack,” wrote NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a press statement following a NATO defense ministers’ meeting June 4. “We will do that on the basis of a detailed report that we have tasked today. Cyber attacks do not stop at national borders. Our defenses should not, either.”

This mainly concerns whether or not to deploy NATO cyberdefense response teams, which have been set up to respond to threats against NATO installations in 55 locations. At their first-ever meeting dedicated to cyberdefense June 4, NATO defense ministers agreed that the alliance’s cyberdefense capability should be fully operational by the autumn, extending protection to all the networks owned and operated by the alliance.

Broadly speaking, NATO countries fall into three groups in the contentious debate about use of NATO cyberdefense response teams.

One group sees defending their networks as a national responsibility and questions why commonly funded NATO response teams should be used; a second would like the help of the response teams; a third thinks that allies with the capability to respond to cyberattacks should help other countries who do not.

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