NATO's cybersecurity chief told a London conference yesterday that cyberattacks are as much of a national security threat as missile attacks.
Suleyman Anil, head of NATO's Computer Incident Response Capability Coordination Center, told the E-Crime congress that it's virtually impossible to stop a committed cyberattack on a country's online infrastructure, Silicon.com reports.
Cyberattacks allow rogue states, terrorist groups, or committed individuals to get the most bang for their buck, according to Anil.
"Cyber war can become a very effective global problem because it is low-risk, low-cost, highly effective and easily globally deployable. It is almost an ideal weapon that nobody can ignore."
As the Guardian notes, many notable cyberattacks over the last year undergird the increasing fear of attacks emanating from cyberspace.
The prospect of internet-based warfare has come to the fore after a series of high-profile international attacks. Last year, it emerged that a gang of hackers, believed to be from China, had infiltrated computer systems at the Pentagon and launched attacks on government networks in Britain, Germany, India and Australia. US officials, who have labelled the group Titan Rain, have accused them of operating under the auspices of officials in Beijing.
Another strike in Estonia, which has one of the most hi-tech governments in the world, was initially blamed on hackers backed by the Russian authorities. However only one teenager, an Estonian, has been arrested in connection with the incident so far.
Compounding the problem, he said state resilience to cyberattacks was "weak." Anil recommended nations devote more resources to recover from an attack and get their systems back online quickly.
Next month during a state summit in Bucharest, the U.N. will set out an action plan to deal with a cyberattack on one of its member states. Currently, armed attacks against a member state of NATO "shall be considered an attack against them all," according to Article V of the NATO Charter, otherwise known as collective defense.
In early February, NATO members did discuss cyberdefense policy, but responding to a reporter's question on whether Article V was discussed in relation to a cyberattack, NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said it "was not mentioned."