HELSINKI — Nordic governments have identified cyber defense as a fundamental area for urgent cooperation and the development of joint countermeasures, plans and strategies. The potential for collaboration was discussed when Nordic foreign ministers met here Oct. 31, with all countries committing to the establishment of a common capability in 2014-2015.
The commitment to establish a common Nordic expertise in cyber defense will involve dedicated national military cyber defense centers (CDC) working closely with the private sector to improve overall defenses against the increasing number and sophistication of attacks against vital government and military infrastructure.
The first step in the joint Nordic cyber defense initiative will see the formation of a connecting communications’ network linking to national cyber defense center and regulatory organizations. It is envisaged that this network can be in place within the next 12 months. The long-term plan is to broaden the cooperation project to include the Baltic states, including Estonia, which operates a NATO-standard CDC in Tallinn.
The need for a Nordic cyber defense capability is among the primary collaborative goals identified by Nordic Defense Cooperation (NORDEFCO), the pan-Nordic, military-run cooperation vehicle tasked with researching and formulating concrete project areas for cross-border defense initiatives among Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
A lot of the ground has already been done at the national level. Norway will establish a new CDC in 2013, and has allocated almost $500 million in start-up and administrative capital to the project over the next five years.
Finland is also at the CDC start-up phase. In mid-October, a working group recommended the establishment of a national cybersecurity center that would link to the proposed Nordic CDC to improve the ability to respond to attacks and launch coordinated counter-measures.
“Right now, we do not have the ability to respond to a large-scale cyber attack against several vitally important targets at the same time. We need a much higher capability and situation awareness. Nordic cooperation will also enhance capacity to defend against all types of cyber attacks,” said Mikko Kosonen, CEO of the Finnish state technology and innovation fund SITRA and chairman of the government’s Cyber Defense Policy Working Group.
In its annual Risk Assessment 2012 report, published Oct. 26, the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste/DDIS), identified cyber warfare as “the greatest single threat to national security.”
“The more Denmark becomes digitized, the more we become vulnerable,” said Thomas Ahrenkiel, DDIS’ director.
Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are all expected to have their CDCs fully operational by year-end 2014. Denmark’s center for cybersecurity will operate under the control of the Ministry of Defense and is expected to begin operations in 2013. The government has provisionally agreed a $20 million annual budget for the CDC, rising to $30 million in 2017.