GLOBSEC's Private-Public Sector Dialogue #4: Enhancing NATO's Cyber Resilience


GLOBSEC hosted its fourth online event within the Public-Private Sector Dialogue series. What was the focus this time?

For NATO, a robust cyber resilience framework is critical. Thwarting sophisticated cyber-attacks that pose significant risks to military operations, critical infrastructure, and sensitive information has become an indispensable part of NATO's broader security goals. The reliance on digital infrastructure has amplified vulnerabilities, making NATO's networks prime targets for malicious cyber actors. Furthermore, the increasingly contentious geopolitical context has exacerbated cybersecurity challenges of NATO Member States.

Cyber conflict is also becoming a prominent component of modern warfare and geopolitical strategy increasing the risk of spill-off attacks on networks of NATO Member States. In this context, NATO's cyber resilience is instrumental in protecting critical infrastructure, reinforcing collective defence capabilities among member nations, fortifying trust, and cooperation among allies, and serving as a deterrent against adversarial cyber activities.

Collaboration between the European Union and NATO to counter cyber adversaries is increasingly paramount — progress has been made on information-sharing and through joint cybersecurity exercises, there is also coordination on improving readiness and response capabilities, among other efforts. Furthering coordination between the NATO and EU is critical due to the interconnected nature of cybersecurity challenges while, importantly, avoiding redundancy and duplication in efforts.

NATO has several initiatives developed to bolster the protection of its digital assets — for example, the Alliance's ‘Centralized Protection” across more than 100 networks in over 20 global locations, with the core hub situated at the NATO Computer Incident Response Centre (NCIRC) in Mons, Belgium, offers multi-layered, real-time monitoring, and defence capabilities. Additionally, the development of Rapid Reaction Teams (RRTs) comprising highly skilled cyber specialists, equipped with mobile Cyber Defence Kits, reinforces local expertise, and swiftly responds to network attacks. These operational tools, alongside the Cyber Threat Assessment Cell (CTAC), play vital roles in post-event analysis, strategic threat evaluation, and intelligence integration within NATO's structure, facilitating reliable attribution of cyber-attacks. Further, the Malware Information Sharing Platform (MISP) enables cyber specialists from NATO entities and member states to share critical insights on diverse cyber-attacks.

The objective of the discussion was to analyse how NATO can better protect its digital assets and enhance cyber resilience through examining the existing cyber threat landscape, gauging the effectiveness of collaboration between NATO and industry partners in this regard, and ways to strengthen these partnerships.

Explore the insights and recommendations in the key takeaways below.