ROME ― Italy’s Leonardo is eyeing work on a possible NATO cyber command after six years in which the company says it has successfully defended NATO sites from hackers, a company official said.
The firm was first contracted in 2011, along with Northrop Grumman, to ensure cybersecurity at NATO sites, and its systems are now in use with 75,000 users at 75 NATO sites in 28 member nations, work worth €65 million (U.S. $77 million) since the contract began.
Northrop Grumman left the partnership in 2014, making Leonardo the sole contractor as NATO faces 350 million suspicious interactions daily across its network.
“Attacks range from mischief making through to significant, state-sponsored attacks,” said Paul MacGregor, senior vice president and general manager for security and information systems at Leonardo‘s British division.
“Nothing has got through yet — we have successfully defended NATO, including the Wales and Warsaw summits,” he added.
As its cyber defense contract comes up for renewal in 2019, Leonardo is looking at further work if and when NATO stands up a fully fledged cyber command.
“We would welcome the opportunity to contribute to a NATO cyber command when it emerges, as it would build on the capabilities we already deliver with NATO. The ability to exploit intelligence from the dark web and proactively defend NATOs networks is an important next step,” MacGregor said.
A NATO official was cagey about the mooted cyber command, stating: “NATO is taking measures to adapt its command structure — to make sure that it remains a robust, effective tool to keep allies safe. This work is ongoing, and no decisions have been made by allies to incorporate cyber elements in the NATO command structure in a new way.”
Any future cyber strategy would remain defensive, the official added.
“NATO as an organisation does not have and is not developing offensive cyber capabilities. As with everything that we do, the alliance will act in line with its defensive mandate and in accordance with international law,” the official said.
With 500 cyber staff at facilities in Chieti in Italy and Bristol in the U.K., Leonardo expects cyber business to grow 10 percent a year in the next five years.
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.