NATO boosts cyber defence investments, launches multinational effort

On 20 September, NATO formally launched the procurement process for the full operational capability of NATO’s cyber defences, due to be up and running by the end of 2012, as well as a multinational project that aims to lower the costs of cyber defence for NATO Allies.

The new cyber defence capability is one of 11 priority projects agreed at NATO’s Lisbon Summit in November last year, and – at a cost of over 28 million Euro – represents nearly a tripling of the Alliance’s investment in protecting its networks, as well as a strengthened ability to support NATO member countries.

“In Lisbon, NATO Heads of State agreed on a new strategic vision of modern defence, and agreed on key supporting investments,” said Ambassador Gábor Iklódy, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, “Importantly, the new capabilities will also strengthen our ability to support Allies in case of cyber attacks, when requested, with improved information sharing, and strengthened rapid reaction teams.”

Industry is now being invited to submit their best-value offers for the project, with more information available on the Web site of the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), which is the NATO agency responsible for building the new cyber defences. The project includes the provision of innovative technologies as well as operational support.

“This is a complex project, with a short deadline – end of 2012,” said Georges D’hollander, NC3A General Manager, “We have given Industry 90-days to compile their bids – thirty days longer than the minimum required period – and will be hosting a bidder’s conference within the next thirty-days.

Sharing the burden of national capability development

A workshop, held on 19 September at the NC3A Agency in Brussels, agreed a number of areas in which nations are considering to work together to share the costs of cutting-edge research and development, as well as the development of new capabilities.

Under the project, nations will work to pool their efforts in the areas of cyber defence information sharing and cyber situational awareness, with a number of other Nations expressing interest in joining the effort.

“By pooling efforts together, we are expecting cost-savings to nations in the range of roughly 15-20% in cyber capabilities”, added Mr. D’hollander, “Equally, by developing capabilities together we know that nations will be able to share expertise and knowledge.”

ACT (Allied Command Transformation) is the lead driver for multinational projects in the Alliance.

“Allied Command Transformation’s vision for this initiative is to bring the NATO and national capability development activities together, to work collaboratively, to share the results“, said General Jaap Willemse, from NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT), “So the challenge to nations is: Can we, today and over the next months – work together to improve everybody’s cyber defence for the future?”

Finally, national capability development will ultimately strengthen Alliance defences.

“In the spirit of the Secretary General’s call for “smart defence” through multinational efforts, the aim is to lower the cost of and facilitate national capability development,” said Suleyman Anil, from the NATO HQ Emerging Security Challenges Division, “In the interconnected world of cyber space, we are only as strong as the weakest link.”

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