NATO Warns it Will Consider a Military Response to Cyber-Attacks
In a communique issued by governments attending the latest meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, the group warned that it is prepared to treat cyberattacks in the same manner as a physical armed attack against any of its allies. This would include some sort of military response against the perpetrators. The new Comprehensive Cyber Defense Policy is rooted in invoking Article 5 on a case-by-case basis in the event of a cyberattack. Article 5 dictates that when any NATO ally is the victim of an armed attack, it will be treated as an attack on all alliance members who are therefore enabled to take any actions necessary to defend that ally. The announcement comes amid rising cyber threats to the alliance and several countries’ infrastructure.
This includes two attacks on the US, including a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline last month and the SolarWinds supply chain attacks in late 2020, both of which were identified to have been the work of Russian state-backed actors. NATO has determined that it considers cyber as a legitimate military domain on a number of occasions in recent years, and the new policy clarifies the lengths to which the alliance is willing to go to protect members’ cyberinfrastructure, intellectual property, and national security.