Cyber warfare a main focus of NATO Warsaw summit as threats rising from major powers

( The threat of cyber warfare from great powers and mid-level nations is rising dramatically and as such was is a main focus of a NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, this week.

As reported by Breaking Defense, cyberspace is likely to be declared a domain of warfare at the summit, since it has become an integral part of modern warfare and crises. Already, the cyber domain is a key component of NATO’s warfighting doctrine and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Because cyber warfare is multidimensional in nature, NATO members will have to make a number of commitments if the alliance is to form a credible offensive and defensive cyber force. That said, the cyber domain is largely political and as such political decisions regarding its use are particularly crucial in Warsaw for strengthening NATO’s cyber readiness.

As Breaking Defense noted further:

The need for ambitious decisions in Warsaw and beyond is driven by the accelerating threat. Tensions with an unpredictable and aggressive Russia are high and rising, while extremist groups like Daesh (known to some as ISIL) are creating chaos and instability.

Already, Russia has integrated offensive cyber capabilities, which include denial-of-service operations, malware and advanced social engineering skills, into its wider foreign and security policy options.

Threat actors who are linked to Russia frequently stage operations against NATO countries with the goal of lifting information, undermining inter-alliance trust and influencing political decisions and opinion.

That said, the December 2015 cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid also proves that Moscow would indeed attack critical infrastructure of an enemy during a time of war.

As Breaking Defense noted further:

Russia has declared its investment into capabilities that can be used to attack an adversary’s stock markets, energy providers, and military command-and-control systems. Daesh, on the other hand, has primarily used globally interconnected networks for recruitment, inspiration, information sharing, and coordination. However, it is clear that it is also seeking to acquire more extensive capabilities and would not shy away from causing destruction if possible.

Those actors must be taken seriously, experts note, and a collective approach – land, sea, air and space domains, as well as the cyber domain – must be developed and deployed both as a deterrent and, if needed, an offensive capability.

That said, in order for the alliance to put up a credible threat, it must raise its level of cyber resilience in all member states, Breaking Defense noted. At present, there is much unevenness throughout the alliance; some states are not as well-protected as others, while some have better offensive cyber systems.

“Capability targets must be introduced into NATO´s defense planning processes and thus increase the trust levels between member states, particularly in the context of hybrid warfare,” the news site noted.

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