BRUSSELS — Speaking at an EU Cybersecurity and Digital Crimes Forum organized by Microsoft here May 31, a senior NATO official outlined four areas for potential European Union-NATO cooperation: training and education; information exchange; protecting national communications and information systems; and harmonizing crisis management procedures.
“If there is a major incident, we should be ready to harmonize our response,” said Gabor Iklody, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges.
NATO has a mandate to protect national communications and information systems, he said, “but we’re not fully comfortable without getting the EU onboard.” He cited the area as a “new domain” because it entailed working with civilian actors.
Describing cybersecurity as a “cooperative environment,” he said “NATO may be part of the answer but may not be in the driving seat.”
Iklody also stressed the “need to tear down walls between homeland security and defense [but] drawing a clear line between cybersecurity and cyber defense is practically impossible” because the methods are the same.
By the end of 2012, NATO expects to achieve full operational capability on cyber defense, meaning “more sensors, 24/7 monitoring of networks and rapid-response teams.”
He noted that NATO’s capability planning process is an important tool that “could influence allies to come up with certain capabilities.” This may cover areas such as national cybersecurity strategies, setting up Computer Emergency Response Teams or forensic analysis capabilities.
NATO is also creating a cyber threat assessment cell to explain major threats that “we should be aware of,” he said.
On the subject of public-private partnerships, he said, “cyberspace doesn’t belong to governments as 80 [percent to] 85 percent is owned and operated by the private sector and technical solutions come from the private sector.
“We need to devise a sustainable framework where state and nonstate actors can work together,” he said.
Enhancing situational awareness was one area he suggested for close cooperation with industry.