The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency has taken a critical step towards launching a new community for technical cyber defenders across the Alliance.
On 12 February 2019, Allied Computer Emergency Response Teams from the first set of five Nations – Belgium, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States, were connected to NATO's protected business network. This will allow Nations to quickly and securely share information with each other, and 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 Nations later this year.
This step will enable the NCI Agency to begin creating an information hub for Allies called the Cyber Security Collaboration Hub, which is only one of the Agency's recent innovations to better secure NATO's networks.
In his speech at the Cyber Defence Pledge Conference on 15 May 2018, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg outlined NATO's key roles in cyber space.
One of those three key roles, the Secretary General said, 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 cyber space to develop a meaningful source of information sharing and collaboration.
General Manager Kevin Scheid said: "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."
The Agency already provides information to Nations' CERTs, but there is no NATO CERT community. Through the Cyber Security Collaboration Hub, the NCI Agency endeavours 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.
NCI Agency Cyber Security Chief Ian West said: "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."
As a part of creating a true "hub" for information, the Agency also plans to strengthen the community with meetings and workshops.
Work to create this hub did not require any additional funds or staff, or changes in policy. The collaboration is facilitated through existing Memorandums of Understanding with NATO Nations.