Russia a potential threat actor in cyber security: NATO

Serife Cetin

TALINN: A senior NATO official warned Thursday that Russia “has demonstrated that it has the potential to be a comprehensive actor.”

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Merle Maigre, director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence, spoke on cyber security and the threats NATO faces.

When asked the gravity of the cyber-threat faced by NATO nations, Maigre said such threats “do not recognize geographical or institutional borders. In cyberspace, everything is merged into one battlefield.”

“On the cyber security front, the current Russian government has demonstrated that it has the potential to be a comprehensive threat actor,” she said.

“Moscow possesses the technological skills, from being able to distribute denial of service attacks to trolls to more advanced persistent threats. It has a strategy in place to derail any global consensus on cyberspace from emerging, from the Gerassimov doctrine to Internet governance, and is engaging in operations, such as the recent US election hacks and NotPetya attack.

“Last but not least, its long-term legal approach has been to undermine the UN Group of Governmental Experts.”

Asked whether cyber attacks are being effectively used to alter elections, Maigre said: “Cyber operations have started to play a key role in the toolbox of political and military intelligence-gathering and information operations.”

“Hybrid challenges call for hybrid response. A combination of legislative, organizational and technical measures need to be implemented in a comprehensive, whole-of-society manner. That includes a unified effort by government, businesses, and a civil society of IT community,” she added. Asked to elaborate on the cooperation with member countries including Turkey, Maigre said the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (NATO CCDCOE) has grown into a 20-nation-strong cyber defense hub with several flagships.

“The world’s most complex international live-fire cyber defense exercise Locked Shields, international conference and community-building event CyCon, and the already mentioned Tallinn Manual,” she listed, adding that all member countries, including Turkey, have contributed to the success of the center and these highlights.

“We highly value the participation of Turkey and recognize and appreciate how Turkey has contributed to the success of our cyber-defense hub by sending us the best people,” she added.

Explaining the center’s practices, Maigre said it is a NATO-accredited cyber defense hub focusing on research, training, and exercises.

“The international military organization based in Estonia currently includes 20 nations providing a 360-degree look at cyber defense, with expertise in the areas of technology, strategy, operations, and the law,” she said.

“We have a diverse mix of experts from the military, government, academia, and industry working together on the most relevant topics in cyber defense. In addition to the flagships mentioned above, we carry out a number of cutting-edge trainings in all our focus areas. (AA)