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NATO Considering Offensive Approach to State-Sponsored Hackers

A NATO discussion seeks to provide clear guidance on when it is acceptable to use cyber warfare as a response. The result may be counter-attacks against state-sponsored hackers.


‘Offense is the best defense' is a phrase uttered in sports for many years, but NATO may soon apply the ideology to state-sponsored hacking.

According to Reuters, the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Denmark are drawing up new cyber warfare principles. If implemented, they would redefine the justification needed to launch cyber attack weapons.

The result could be a more aggressive stance on hackers from , , and North Korea who try to disrupt or steal technology.

“There's a change in the mindset to accept that computers, just like aircraft and ships, have an offensive capability,” explained U.S. Navy commander Micheal at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.

Widdmann also believes cyber attacks could be useful in achieving mission objectives. “I need to do a certain mission and I have an air asset, I also have a cyber asset. What fits best for me to get the effect I want?” he said.

A Growing Approach

Previously, the US is thought to have been behind Stuxnet, a 2010 virus that destroyed nuclear centrifuges in Iran. European countries, however, have been a little more hesitant, not wanting to adopt the same tools as oppressive regimes.

Though NATO defined cyber attacks as a form of warfare in 2014, it didn't go into specific details. Now the alliance is seeking to better understand future capabilities and form both defensive and offensive tools.

But some believe that though there are advantages, NATO must be careful.

“Unlike ‘smart bombs' that can pinpoint the damage to an air strip or enemy fortress, cyber attacks are far less specific,” said Bill Evans, senior director at security company One Identity, to v3.

“Consider an attack at an enemy's power station. Surely this will cut off power to the enemy's ground forces, but it might also pull the power from a local hospital or senior citizen's facility – certainly not the moral high ground that NATO prefers.”
It's a technique British intelligence officials believe Russia may be using already. Persistent cyber hacks are allegedly targetting European energy and telecommunications networks.
“They are seeking to attack the cohesion of NATO,” said a senior British security official. “It looks quite strategic.”
Ryan Maskell
Ryan Maskellhttps://ryanmaskell.co.uk
Ryan has had a passion for gaming and technology since early childhood. Fusing the skills from his Creative Writing and Publishing degree with profound technical knowledge, he enjoys covering news about Microsoft. As an avid writer, he is also working on his debut novel.

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