The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) agency took a critical step on 12 February towards launching a new community for technical cyber defenders across the alliance.
Allied Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) from an initial five nations – Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States – were connected to NATO's protected business network. This will allow users to quickly and securely share information with each other as well as with the agency. Access to the network, which provides an encrypted workspace with secure video, voice, chat and information gathering, will roll out to all 29 NATO nations later this year.
This step will enable NCI to begin creating an information hub for allies, to be called the Cyber Security Collaboration Hub – just one of the agency’s recent innovations to better secure NATO’s networks.
Outlining NATO's key roles in cyberspace in a speech in May last year, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that a key role is “to act as a hub for information sharing, training and expertise.”
While the agency is spearheading this effort, it intends to coordinate with all NATO stakeholders in cyberspace to develop a meaningful source of information sharing and collaboration. “Through our Cyber Security Collaboration Hub, the NCI Agency will develop a community that trains together and learns from each other. With this new hub, we are bringing to life the Secretary General's vision," explained NCI General Manager Kevin Scheid.
The agency already provides information to national CERTs, but there is no NATO CERT community. Through the Cyber Security Collaboration Hub, NCI will endeavour to create one. For example, if a nation has good advice that could be relevant to other allies, the agency could post it on its portal to make it available to other cyber defenders in the alliance.
“To defend against dynamic threats, we need to act quickly. Email and telephones just aren't effective anymore. This is our first step towards building a modern, secure network among CERTs. We are grateful to have received offers of support from several Nations as we begin this critical effort,” observed NCI Cyber Security Chief Ian West.
As a part of creating a true ‘hub’ for information, NCI also plans to strengthen the community with meetings and workshops. Work to create the hub did not require any additional funds or staff, or changes in policy. The collaboration is facilitated through existing Memoranda of Understanding with NATO nations.