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NATO looking at holistic path to boost cyber defense arsenal

Date: December 15, 2021
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Vivienne Machi

STUTTGART, Germany ??“ NATO is moving into 2022 determined to increase its cyber defense posture, investing in new capabilities, refreshing its policies, and learning from recent exercises to do so.

Coming off the heels of the most recent flagship exercise ??“ Cyber Coalition 2021, held in-person in Tallinn, Estonia ??“ alliance officials are focused on ensuring that networks, people, and resources are as protected as possible, several leaders said at a media day held Dec. 6.

“We have to evolve, we have to progress, we have to increase our level in defending these networks,” said Gen. Philippe Lavigne, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation since September 2021.

The alliance has a multi-pronged approach to boost its cyber defenses via modernized and refreshed capability investments, new policies and strategic concepts, and by strengthening information sharing and situational awareness between its 30 member nations.

NATO plans to spend several hundred million euros on cyber defense capabilities over the next few years, said Ian West, chief of the NATO Cyber Security Center in Mons, Belgium.

Those funds will be spent both on refreshing existing equipment ??“ “a constant need” ??“ and to modernize NATO’s capabilities, he said during the media day.

Industry will continue to be involved in these investments, he noted. “I don’t think that we’ll ever not need industry, and I can’t think of anything that they’re not involved with.”

NATO recently announced several efforts meant to help the alliance work more closely with private-sector entities on a host of critical technologies, to include cybersecurity. These include the Defense Innovation Accelerator of the North Atlantic (DIANA), and an innovation fund to support the development of dual-use technologies.

Member-nations will invest up to €1 billion ($1.16 billion) into the fund, said David van Weel, NATO’s assistant secretary-general for emerging security challenges, at the media day.

In addition to new funding, NATO plans to merge its two major cybersecurity conferences into a new forum, dubbed NATO Edge and to be held next fall, likely in Mons. The NATO Communication and Information Agency’s NITEC Connect industry conference will combine with the NATO Information Assurance Symposium (NIAS) to form the new conference, West said. “I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to actually being in-person with our community again,” he added.

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