Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 6 News List

US to aid NATO cyberabilities

COMMITMENT:The announcement, which is expected in the coming days, is meant to signal NATO’s ability to counter cyberattacks and could help serve as a deterrent

AP, BRUSSELS

Acting to counter Russia’s aggressive use of cyberattacks across Europe and around the world, the US is expected to announce that, if asked, it would use its formidable cyberwarfare capabilities on NATO’s behalf, a senior US official said.

The announcement is expected in the coming days as US Secretary of Defense James Mattis attends a meeting of NATO defense ministers yesterday and today.

Katie Wheelbarger, the US principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said the US is committing to use offensive and defensive cyberoperations for NATO allies, but it would maintain control over its own personnel and capabilities.

The decision comes on the heels of the NATO summit in July, when members agreed to allow the alliance to use cybercapabilities that are provided voluntarily by allies to protect networks and respond to cyberattacks.

It reflects growing concerns by the US and its allies over Moscow’s use of cyberoperations to influence elections in the US and elsewhere.

“Russia is constantly pushing its cyber and information operations,” Wheelbarger said, adding that this is a way for the US to show its continued commitment to NATO.

She told reporters that the move is a signal to other nations that NATO is prepared to counter cyberattacks waged against the alliance or its members.

Much like the US’ nuclear capabilities, the formal declaration of cybersupport can help serve as a military deterrent to other nations and adversaries.

The US has for some time considered cyber as a war-fighting domain, much like air, sea, space and ground operations.

The Pentagon has released a new cybersecurity strategy that maps out a more aggressive use of military cybercapabilities that specifically calls out Russia and China for their use of cyberattacks.

China has been “persistently” stealing data from the public and private sectors to gain an economic advantage, the strategy said, adding that Russia has used cyberinformation operations to “influence our population and challenge our diplomatic processes.”

“We will conduct cyberspace operations to collect intelligence and prepare military cybercapabilities to be used in the event of a crisis or conflict,” the strategy said, adding that the US is prepared to use cyberwarfare along with other military weapons against its enemies when needed, including to counter malicious cyberactivities targeting the country.

The document added that the Pentagon would “work to strengthen the capacity” of allies and partners.

NATO has moved cautiously on offensive cybercapabilities. At the Warsaw Summit in 2016, allies recognized cyberspace as a war-fighting domain. It has said that a computer-based attack on an ally would trigger NATO’s commitment to defend its members, and last year, the alliance agreed to create a new cyberoperations center.

However, the focus has always been on defending NATO networks and those of its members, not offensive cyberwar.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that the defense ministers would have a working session this week to address cyber and other risks, and how allies can cooperate to counter such threats. He did not provide details.

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