NATO's largest cyber security conference NIAS'18 kicked off in Mons, Belgium, on 16 October with a record number of 1800 delegates registering for the three-day event.
This year's edition of the annual conference focuses on 'Securing NATO's Digital Endeavour" and how cyber security affects other domains – land, sea and air - as well as areas such as joint intelligence and reconnaissance and civil-military cooperation.
"Industry has the innovation, has the technology, they bring in new talent. Clearly [our partnership with] industry is key to bringing innovation, technology and new talent to secure the Alliance" said the NCI Agency's General Manager, Mr Kevin J Scheid, as he addressed national leaders and leading cyber security specialists from both sides of the Atlantic.
In his opening remarks, Mr Scheid reaffirmed the Agency's commitment to NATO's role in cyberspace.
He noted that the Agency has taken several initiatives to drive cyber security progress across the Alliance and protect NATO networks.
He remarked: "We are already involved in daily information exchange with Allies. We want to strengthen that exchange with the national cyber security centres [from NATO Member Countries].This is why we are deploying improved tools to enhance real-time information exchange and collaboration. We are also expanding our curriculum at the NCI Academy to cover advanced cyber security training for the military."
Dr Antonio Missiroli, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, told the audience that "NATO has to adapt to this world where we face not only the risk of attacks in the traditional domains, but also the thousands of cyber events that fall well below the traditional level of activity that a military alliance might respond to".
The Assistant Secretary General emphasized that such challenges can only be tackled by a collaborative approach to cyber security.
"Moving forward, given the cutting-edge developments in the cyber domain, such as Artificial Intelligence, we will need to do more to leverage the power of industry and academia and closer align this cooperation to our requirements."
Major General Wolfgang Renner, Deputy Chief of Staff Cyberspace of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, shared his military perspective on the topic.
"There are two fundamental realities: First, what happens in cyberspace absolutely affects how we fight – no matter where or when the next crisis occurs. And second, what happens in cyberspace is integral to the collective defence of the Alliance," Major General Renner said.
Day one of NIAS'18 also included two national perspectives on cyber partnerships.
Mr Len Bastien, Chief Information Officer for Canada's Department of National Defence, remarked that information is one of the most precious commodities for the defence sector.
"The value of information is priceless. We have to protect it, we have to move it, we have to make sure it is available, and we have to make sure it is secure, that it has fidelity."
Mr Bastien shared his country's approach to attracting cyber security talent from the private sector. He mentioned Canada's initiative to build a 'cyber reserve' of industry professionals and academics who dedicate one weekend a month to supporting the Canadian Armed Forces as cyber warriors.
Meanwhile, Mr Kusti Salm, National Armaments Director for Estonia's Ministry of Defence, discussed his country's efforts to become more cyber resilient.
He explained that Estonia aims "to create a 'self-inducing' innovative machine by engaging more with subject matter experts, academia, cyber enthusiast and youngsters, so that we can implement their best ideas back into military exercises that we are conducting."
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