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MLO Belgrade  /  Newsroom  /  News Archive  /  2020  /  Cyber Defence

Nov 25 2020


Cyber threats to the security of the Alliance are becoming more frequent, complex and destructive. Attackers are targeting an ever-growing list of targets – from national parliaments to the Olympics, and from vaccine developers to elections websites. 

We protect our own IT networks from cyber-attacks 24 hours a day and we have rapid reaction cyber defence teams on 24/7 standby that can help Allies under attack. We share information about cyber threats in real-time with Allies and partners – including the EU. NATO will continue to adapt to the evolving cyber threat landscape. NATO and its Allies rely on strong and resilient cyber defences to fulfil the Alliance’s core tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.

Cyber defence is part of collective defence. We have made clear that a serious cyber-attack could trigger Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, our collective defence clause. We have designated cyberspace an operational domain in which NATO will operate and defend itself as effectively as it does on land, in the air, and at sea. We have set up NATO’s Cyberspace Operations Centre, in Mons, Belgium. We have also agreed Allies can integrate national cyber effects into Alliance operations and missions. NATO’s cyber policy is defensive. As in all other domains, in cyberspace NATO acts in line with international law. Enhancing our resilience to cyber threats is critical and Allies are also bolstering their national networks and infrastructures.


 This November, NATO’s Allied Command Transformation organized and run NATO’s biggest cyber defence exercise Cyber Coalition 20, bringing together participants from 27 NATO nations, numerous NATO Partner nations, NATO Computer Incident Response Capability Technical & Coordination Centres, and the European Union Cyber Defence Staff. Cyber Coalition is NATO’s flagship cyber defence exercise and one of the largest in the world. Directed by NATO"s Allied Command Transformation, this is its 13th edition and its first year to be conducted fully virtually.

The exercise improves collaboration within NATO’s cyberspace domain, enhances the ability of the Alliance to conduct operations and provides feedback to NATO Cyberspace Transformation. It helps ensure that NATO and its Partners are prepared to respond, collectively if necessary, when confronted by any threat and are able to do so in accordance with international law, including the UN Charter, as applicable. Drawing inspiration from current-day threats, the exercise tests officials’ real-time responses to incidents, such as attempts to breach classified networks, disruption of communications systems in critical infrastructure and espionage through smartphone applications. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exercise took place virtually this year with about 1,000 cyber defenders connected through Estonia"s Cyber Security Training Centre. 

Story by MLO Belgrade Office

Video by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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