NATO to enhance military cyber defences in peacetime

The development was revealed by NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges David van Weel during his address at the 15th annual International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon) in Tallinn.


NATO member states are poised to endorse a strengthened role for military cyber defenders in peacetime, in addition to the permanent integration of private sector capabilities. This strategic move aims to enhance the alliance’s capacity to counteract state-sponsored hacking activities. David van Weel, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges, highlighted this development, stating that the endorsement is anticipated to occur during the upcoming Vilnius summit in Lithuania, scheduled for July.

Speaking at the 15th annual International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon) in Tallinn, van Weel emphasised the need to recognise cyberspace as a ‘perpetually contested environment’.

‘We need to strengthen the role of our military cyber defenders during peacetime. And this is important because in most national contexts, the military only gets involved during crisis and conflict,’ van Weel stated.

He continued, ‘cyberspace is never fully at peace, there is a constant friction, and we have to prevent scenarios where we expect our militaries to perform some kind of magic handover to take over without having been in the room for the lead-up [to the crisis].’

The integration of industry expertise and capabilities into NATO’s cyber defence efforts is seen as crucial, aiming to fortify networks, operate effectively in cyberspace, and uphold the alliance’s values. Additionally, NATO plans to introduce a mechanism to facilitate assistance between allies in times of crisis when national response capabilities become overwhelmed. Alongside these measures, van Weel shared that there is a commitment to raising the bar for national cyber resilience, establishing ambitious goals and minimum requirements. These collective efforts aim to enhance the alliance’s ability to protect against state-sponsored cyber threats, reinforcing its cyber defence capabilities in an ever-evolving digital landscape.