Friday, 18 July 2014

Cyber Security at the NATO 2014 Summit

Titania delegate, Andy Williams attended the NATO Briefing to the Industry yesterday at the Farnborough International Airshow.

FIA 2014 is a great opportunity for a day out with the family. The acrobatic demonstrations from renowned aircrafts such as the Breitling Wing Walkers, Aerostars and the RAF Red Arrows, made for a memorable spectacle.

However, Farnborough is not only hosting a public airshow for aviation enthusiasts, but also one of the most recognised trade exhibitions for the aerospace and defence industries. In the run up to the NATO Summit taking place in Wales in September 2014, ADS and UKTI Defence and Security Organisation have jointly offered UK industry the opportunity to connect and engage with the Alliance’s two main agencies: NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) and NATO Support Agency (NSPA).

The purpose of the briefing was to showcase the NATO market to the UK industry by bringing together the two agencies involved in budget spending and strategic operational activities, together with the UK defence and intelligence industry. The event is consistent with a previous declaration, by President Barack Obama, where he along with NATO’s Secretary General Fogh Rasmussem would identify the host country for the 2014 Summit, which will look at building up NATO’s ability to address cyber threats and “lock in” commitments by members. The “lock in” reference is a reminder of the message that US has sent before to NATO members, that cyber security is a shared responsibility.

Currently the agenda for the Summit revolves around: Afghanistan troop withdrawal; adapting the Alliance’s existence in the 2014 post era to respond to emerging threats - where cyber defence, intelligence cooperation and special op forces are discussed; budgetary concerns.

Previous meetings establishing the agenda have increasingly discussed cyber issues as an emerging challenge which should enter NATO’s defence strategy. So does this mean will see a grounded cyber security strategy at the 2014 Summit, in Wales? According to Chatham House, inside sources have been quoted saying to expect ‘more of the same’ – a focus on exercises, enhanced training, standard and greater work with partners.

The Alliance is confronting serious criticism from within. The first question on cyber issues has been about the defence of the organisation itself before taking over more ambitious projects. In response, the Alliance has hired Finmeccanica and Northrop Grumman to install cyber security equipment and Incident Response Capability programs across NATO headquarters, in 28 countries. In addition, the organisation also set up two Rapid Reaction Teams to protect its networks against cyber attacks.

Another discussion concerns whether the Alliance should leave cyber security policies to the EU. An enhanced long-term dialogue is needed in order to avoid duplicating efforts with the European Union and this seems to be a recognised concern for NATO leaders this September.

Finally, the most pressing question of all is who foots the cyber security bill and from that perspective, the members appear to be fairly reluctant to an offensive cyber strategy, which would put further strain on the already undercut budget. But as indicated in this research paper published by the NATO Defence College, Rome, ultimately there is pressure for the Alliance to justify its presence in the post 2014 era. Perhaps the answer lies in different prioritization over what constitutes a threat in 2014, with new budgets reflecting it appropriately. The Farnborough ‘Briefing to the Industry’, involving the relevant bodies of NATO and emphasizing strategic capacity and budget allocation, indicates the Alliance is already taking steps in the right direction. 

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