Visible to the public Cyber Scene #4Conflict Detection Enabled

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Cyber Scene #4


Post-BREXIT: Transatlantic Cyber Defense Issues

Given the unlikely event of what the Economist on 2 July dubbed “...the possibility of an inelegant, humiliating, and yet welcome, Breversal,” the United Kingdom (UK) ushered in Prime Minister Theresa May and wrestled with its planned withdrawal from the European Union (EU) while the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations addressed cyber defense issues at the Warsaw Summit on 8–9 July 2016. The New York Times reported: “Europe, the anchor of the trans-Atlantic alliance, is battling centrifugal forces unleashed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.” As a counterweight, President Obama addressed the NATO Summit, stating “We haven't simply reaffirmed the alliance; we're moving forward with the most significant reinforcement of collective defense any time since the Cold War.” Recently, ex-Prime Minister David Cameron affirmed that despite its decision to leave the EU, the UK is not turning its back on Europe or on European security. The NATO Secretary General, former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, added that NATO was undergoing the biggest reinforcement to its collective defense in a generation.

Just prior to the Summit, NATO agreed to elevate cyberspace to the conflict domain of ground, air, sea, and space operations. This follows the February 2016 NATO Technical Arrangement on cyber defence cooperation with the EU, stating that international law applies to cyberspace. The US, for its part, published a list on 8 July entitled “U.S. Assurance and Deterrence Efforts in Support of NATO Allies” to underscore this direction. See: The Economist Special Edition Anarchy in the UK and particularly "Adrift" (p. 10) of 2 July 2016 in, and

NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, Jamie Shea, provides a dynamite summary of the ascendancy of cyber as a tool of warfare in NATO, particularly regarding cost-effectiveness, the ease of the use of proxies and anonymity, and the impact versus cost issue, in the following video clip: The recent creation of his post is in itself testimony to the shift in emphasis, even prior to BREXIT.

As the EU contracts, NATO expands, officially adding Montenegro in July 2016 to the accession process following Albania and Croatia’s joining in 2009.  Moreover, in addition to the existing NATO Cyber Defence Centre (sic) of Excellence in Estonia and the NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre in the UK, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg announced the standing up of an intelligence fusion center in Tunisia to focus on Special Forces Training on anti-terrorism issues which have drawn in NATO members and partners.

Reinforcing NATO’s growth spurt in contrast to the EU, the Secretary General underscored that beyond the addition of the 29th NATO nation, NATO welcomes the nations who have chosen to be strong partners, such as Sweden, Finland, Austria, and Serbia. Some of these partners bring sophistication, experience, and geography to the cyber table. Interoperability, an enduring technical challenge for NATO, was tested just prior to the summit at a meeting attended virtually by 53 nations deemed “crucial security partners” by Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador, and former Pentagon Assistant Secretary for International Security Alexander Vershbow. See: 

For the latest on NATO’s cyber defense initiatives, see the NATO JULY 2016 FACT SHEET ON CYBER DEFENCE at

N.B. NATO officially uses British spelling. 

(ID#: 16-11373)