BRUSSELS — Five NATO countries — Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Romania — have agreed to spend up to 12.5 million euros ($16.1 million) on a five-year, multinational cyberdefense project that will get underway later this year.
The five countries and the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency signed a memorandum of understanding in mid-March in which they each agreed to spend up to 500,000 euros per year for five years. Other NATO countries can join in at a later date, as per the memorandum.
Through the “Multinational Cyber Defence Capability Development Project,” the five countries will improve the sharing of technical information; shared awareness of threats; and develop advanced cyberdefense sensors.
The project is part of NATO’s frequently repeated mantra of “Smart Defence,” which means finding ways for countries to spend more effectively in the area of defense policy.
The next step is for the nations to agree on the scope and execution timelines of the initial program of work for the project. A rolling three-year program of work is expected to be established in the fourth quarter of 2013. Work on one work package or more is expected to begin later this year.
“There are several benefits from a multinational approach to developing cyberdefense capabilities: potential for cost savings through joint research and development; joint procurement for economies of scale; and a better end result thanks to more diverse exposure,” said Koen Gijsbers, the NATO Communications and Information Agency manager.
Finally, a capability developed in this way is “born interoperable,” potentially saving significant investments in the long term, according to a NATO official.
“Jointly developed capabilities have the advantage of being born interoperable rather than having to be adapted to meet interoperability requirements later. Collaboration on system development in this way is expected to be more efficient than other approaches,” said a NATO official in an emailed answer to Defense News.
Decisions on whether there will be specific calls for tender for parts of the project will be taken as part of the program of work preparation.