Q2/2019 - NATO

London, 23 May 2019 - Cyber Defence Pledge Conference

On 23 May 2019, the second NATO Cyber Defence Pledge Conference took place in London. The conference series organised by NATO is primarily intended to raise awareness of the new threats a cyber war would include and to help NATO countries optimise their national cyber defence strategy. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in London that "cyber" was now one of the NATO Alliance's priorities. NATO countries had to recognise the threat potential of cyber attacks and the need to invest in enhanced cyber defence. The new cyber dimension had fundamentally changed the "nature of warfare" and was accompanied by incalculable threats.[1]

One of the issues under consideration was how to develop an effective deterrence strategy in cyberspace. Stoltenberg made it very clearly that potential attackers must be well aware that NATO was not limited to respond in cyberspace when it was attacked in cyberspace, but would draw on NATO's broad range of capabilities[2].  Such an "asymmetric response" would thus include the use of traditional weapons systems. Stoltenberg referred to NATO's decision that cyber attacks could also be regarded as an "Article 5 case". Article 5 of the NATO Treaty contains the obligation of mutual assistance, according to which an attack against one NATO country is treated as an attack against all NATO countries. As to the internationally controversial issue of attribution, Stoltenberg referred to the foiled Russian cyber attacks on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague and the fight against ISIS in the Middle East, which clearly proved that considerable progress has been made in this respect.

Stoltenberg pointed out that it was necessary to recruit specialised personnel for NATO cyber activities and promoted close cooperation with the private sector. With a view to the cyber security negotiations starting at the UN in New York in September 2019, Stoltenberg advocated a "norms-based, predictable and secure cyberspace".


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  1. [1] Remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Cyber Defence Pledge Conference, London, 23 May 2019: “Cyber-attacks can be as damaging as conventional attacks. A single attack can inflict billions of dollars’ worth of damage to our economies, bring global companies to a standstill, paralyse our critical infrastructure, undermine our democracies and have a crippling impact on military capabilities. Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, more complex and more destructive. From low-level attempts to technologically sophisticated attacks. They come from states, and non-state actors. From close to home and from very far away. And they affect each and every one of us. NATO is not immune. We register suspicious events against NATO cyber systems every day. And cyber threats will become more dangerous with the development of new technologies. Such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep fakes. These technologies are fundamentally changing the nature of warfare. As much as the industrial revolution did. NATO is adapting to this new reality. NATO leaders have agreed that a cyber attack could trigger Article 5 of our founding treaty. Where an attack against one Ally is treated as an attack against all. NATO has designated cyberspace as a military domain. Alongside land, sea and air”. See: https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_166039.htm?selectedLocale=en>
  2. [2] Remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Cyber Defence Pledge Conference, London, 23 May 2019: “For deterrence to have full effect, potential attackers must know that we are not limited to respond in cyberspace when we are attacked in cyberspace. We can and we will use the full range of capabilities at our disposal…. It takes just a ‘click’ to send a cyber virus spreading across the globe. But it takes a global effort to stop it from inflicting chaos.” See https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_166039.htm?selectedLocale=en