Future hostilities to begin with cyber attacks, NATO official says

Many nations now have cyber attack capabilities

Some members of the strategic community believe that cyber attacks will now serve the same role in starting hostilities as air campaigns played in past conflicts, reports Julian Hale at Defense Systems.

James Shea, NATO’s director for policy and planning, made the statement March 22 at a Security and Defense Agenda debate hosted by the organization in Brussels. Cyber attacks are very effective for about 36 hours, after which security patches rapidly reduce their effectiveness, according to NATO officials.

Approximately 120 countries (there are 192 member states in United Nations) now have or are in the process of developing offensive cyber capabilities, Shea said, who observed that the cyber realm now forms a fifth dimension of warfare after space, sea, land and air.

As military forces increasingly depend on software-driven systems, they are making themselves increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks, Shea said, noting that NATO suffers about 100 attacks each day.

Other speakers participating in the debate observed that the United States and Europe need to work together on cyber defense and that it is important to maintain spending on security technologies even in an economic downturn.

Putting things in perspective is important, Shea said. In this regard, the cyber threat should not be overhyped because it is in no way equal to the peril posed by weapons of mass destruction.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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