US Urges NATO Allies to Harden Cyber Defenses Due to Russian Threat

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, June 25, 2015From Phil Stewart, Reuters:  U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter urged NATO allies on Wednesday to strengthen their cyber defenses, a senior U.S. defense official said, citing an advanced threat from Russia.

A major cyber attack on a NATO member by any adversary could trigger a collective response by the alliance, perhaps extending beyond cyberspace.

“In his message today, (Carter) underscored the importance of cyber defense – both of NATO networks and critical infrastructure,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that many NATO members were vulnerable.

Carter said ensuring a strong cyber defense was more important than developing offensive capabilities, according to the official.

The United States in April disclosed a cyber intrusion this year by Russian hackers it said had accessed an unclassified U.S. military network. The Pentagon’s new cyber strategy document singles out Russian cyber actors for their stealth.

From John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes:  “I also asked allies to participate more in cyber exercises,” Carter said at the end of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers here.

From NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence:  “We must prepare NATO and our Allies for cyber challenges, particularly from Russia. That’s why I visited NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, and I’m pleased to announce a new American initiative to bolster the Center’s role in leading our partners towards improved cyber defense,” Secretary Carter said in Tallinn today. He explained that the Department of Defense will work with the Center of Excellence in three main areas: development of cyber defense strategies, critical infrastructure protection planning, and cyber defense posture assessments.

Image: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, June 25, 2015 (photo: Sgt. Adrian Cadiz/Department of Defense)