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09 7 2016

NATO opens flagship cyber event with vision for the future

Top NATO officials and industry representatives are discussing how to join forces and efforts to combat ever more sophisticated cyber threats at the Alliance's annual two-day cyber security conference NIAS 16 in Mons, Belgium.

Today's first day of the conference opened on the next steps for NATO's cyber defence from political, operational and technological perspectives.

"Partnerships are essential. None of us alone is better equipped to fight cyber threats than all of us together," said Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges.

Ambassador Ducaru emphasized the importance of cyberspace for NATO today and in the future: "We know that NATO's operations and missions are going to be unfolding in a heavily contested environment where our networks will be under attack."

"We had to recognize we are getting more and more dependent on our networks and that there is no such thing as a completely secure networks," added MGEN Walter Huhn, representing Allied Command Operations, "A resilient force is one that can continue to function when its networks have been attacked or disrupted".

NATO opens flagship cyber event with vision for the future

Never rest

"In cyber, hubris is our worst enemy. Thinking that we have solved it, that we are safe. This symposium is the best antidote for that," RADM Thomas Daum, Chief of Staff of the NATO Communication and Information Agency, stressed in his opening address. "At NIAS we always scare each other a little bit – we talk of the threat, how the attacker only needs to get it right once, how one e-mail can bring down networks valued at tens of millions. But we also inspire each other, including in the workshop sessions; we change, refresh our thinking. And we build connections, friendships."

Among other topics, the conference will discuss a 70 million Euro cyber refresh that will begin in 2017 and will see a fundamental upgrade of NATO's cyber capabilities.

The event is NATO's largest annual cyber conference and brings together both Industry and national delegations.

The second day of the conference will see cyber leaders from the UK, US and France discuss their unique national perspective on cyber security. Industry experts will take to the stage to highlight emerging trends in cyber.

Major investments

The NCI Agency is responsible for operating and defending NATO's networks 24/7 as well as advanced technology acquisition.

At the Summit in Warsaw (8-9 July 2016), Allies recognized cyberspace as an operational domain and committed to continue strengthening their cyber defence capabilities. NATO has state-of-the art cyber defence hardware and software, and is constantly adapting to a rapidly-evolving technology environment. This requires new tools and solutions and better engagement with Industry, including through the NATO Industry Cyber Partnership.

Alliance leaders endorsed the NICP at the Wales Summit in September 2014, recognizing that NATO and Industry face shared risks in the cyber domain, and that addressing these challenges requires new frameworks for action. Executives representing security and defence, IT, financial, and critical infrastructure sectors later formed an informal cyber defence working group to focus on priority areas where NATO and Industry can work together for mutual benefit both at a technical and operational level in order to develop greater momentum for information-sharing and collaboration. Through these initiatives, the Alliance is cooperating with Industry in new and innovative ways which benefit both parties - it really is both smart and collective cyber defence.

Follow the event live at #NIAS16.