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Nato should tool up for cyber war, say globo-bigwigs

Albright demands 'passive and active' measures

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Nato believes there is not likely to be a conventional military attack on its members in the future but that some form of cyber-attack is one of three most probable dangers facing the alliance.

The organisation is the midst of finding itself a new purpose. A group of bigwigs have been appointed to find "a New Strategic Concept". Nato has gone through several changes since its creation in the wake of the Second World War as a defensive alliance against the Soviet Union.

Although Nato said the possibility of conventional military attack could not be ignored it is more likely to face an attack by ballistic missile, a terrorist attack or a cyber attack.

Other less probable attacks include disruption to energy or maritime supply lines, a financial crisis or harmful consequences of climate change.

Dealing with cyber attacks will require more cooperation with the European Union, the experts conclude, because the EU has more expertise in dealing with such attacks.

The report warns: "The next significant attack on the Alliance may well come down a fibre optic cable. Already, cyber attacks against NATO systems occur frequently, but most often below the threshold of political concern."

It recommends a major effort to increase monitoring of Nato's critical network in order to find and fix vulnerabilities. The Centre for Excellence should improve members' training in cyber-defence. Nato members should expand their early warning network monitoring systems. Nato should have a team ready to dispatch to areas under or threatened by cyber attack.

Finally the experts said that over time Nato should "plan to mount a fully adequate array of cyber defence capabilities, including passive and active elements".

The group, chaired by Madeleine Albright, also looked at Nato enlargement, relations with groups and countries outside the Alliance - particularly Russia - but warned that such partnerships need to be a two-way street.

The press release and links to the full report are here. ®

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