NATO in the Cyber Commons


NATO in the Cyber Commons


19 Oct 2010


Tallinn, Estonia

Fifth in a project of seven meetings organised by Allied Command Transformation on “Global Commons Strategic Issues”.

The goal of Tallinn’s workshop was to focus on NATO’s challenges in the cyber commons. The workshop sought to identify the vulnerabilities affecting NATO’s assured access to the cyber space, as well as
make recommendations for NATO’s way ahead in developing relevant shaping policies and capabilities. Secure access to the cyber space is still an immature discipline and so NATO should keep vigilant. The cyber commons is the only man-made of the commons as all the assets have a physical location and belong to someone. The protection of the cyber commons requires a collective effort through the consequent cooperation between public and private entities. Every state should collaborate by protecting its portion of the domain and avoid offenses which originate from its territory.

The main challenge with regard to a cyber attack is the ability to attribute the offense. Attribution will continue to represent a huge complication, sometimes close to insolvable, as the complexity needed for tracking down such actions at times exceeds the basic foundations upon which the cyber commons rely on. Extended collaboration among NATO and its partners, as well as the private sector, is the best possible approach to fight against cyber offenses.

Dominating the battle of the cyber space narrative is essential to NATO. The Alliance should seek to deny the adversaries their ability to propagate their offensive messages. NATO has been quick to provide responses to the new paradigm on cyber security threats and maintaining permanent awareness. The imminent approval of a new Allied Strategic Concept will provide a timely opportunity to review the current NATO Cyber Defence Policy and increase the Alliance’s cyber level of ambition.