NATO-backed guidebook offers guidance on cyber attacks

News by Dan Raywood

The UK's cyber defence has taken an upturn with support from the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) and the development of a manual defining cyber war.

The UK's cyber defence has taken an upturn with support from the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) and the development of a manual defining cyber war.

According to the Telegraph, NATO has helped in the creation of the manual which sets out how international law applies to online attacks by the state, and warns that online attacks could lead to full-blown military conflicts.

The advisory handbook was written by 20 legal experts and says that governments must avoid attacks on civilians, hospitals, nuclear power stations, dams and dykes, while an online attack on an electricity grid resulting in fire is one example of the way that cyber war could bring about real physical harm.

Professor Michael Schmitt, director of the project, pointed out that there is currently little agreement about how international law applies to online attacks.

Jason Steer, EMEA product manager at FireEye, said: “News of a new NATO manual focusing on the issue of cyber warfare is certainly to be welcomed as a positive step in tackling the growing threat to international security. However, while Nato's move to implement a set of rules are to be advocated, the difficulty – as is always the case in cyber space – will be in enforcing and defending these protocols.


“While it appears that first and second world countries are starting to wake up to the realities of the evolving threat landscape and the issue of nation-state attacks, more is needed to be done to ensure that organisations across the board are robustly protected as Nato's attempts to lay down the law are likely to prove extremely difficult to enforce.


“With this in mind, organisations, nations and particularly those with critical infrastructure to protect, must be mindful of the limitations of traditional security defences as well as the emerging legislation designed to mitigate the threat.”

Last week, the UK Government announced that it was creating a framework of global resources and expertise on cyber practice, which countries around the world will be able to draw on to tackle the range of cyber-threats and challenges.

This will be backed by the ICSPA who will also deliver a second project that will help the UK Government identify common priorities among law enforcement agencies and the private sector in supporting countries that want to tackle online security and cyber crime.

John Lyons, chief executive of the ICSPA, said: “Helping countries with a strategy to fight cyber crime around the world will reduce the impact of attacks against UK-based companies and boost the huge benefits the Internet brings to our economies and societies.

“The international fight against cyber crime can only succeed if we all work at it together. Since our launch in July 2011, the ICSPA and its members and partners have been working hard to make this happen and now, with this UK government initiative, we are beginning to see a more cohesive approach to an international problem.

“More and more companies, governments and law enforcement agencies recognise that by collaborating on cyber issues we can begin to establish a more resilient and globally meaningful approach to protecting our online communities.”

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