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When searching for information on this topic, potentially useful keywords to use include :

  • cyberspace security
  • cyber terrorism
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  • cyber deterrence
  • cyber warfare
  • cyber battles
  • cyber conflicts
  • cyber-physical systems
  • cyber war
  • cyber-international relations

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Conference Report

The NATO Emerging Security Challenges Division teamed up with Carnegie Europe to organize the conference The World in 2020 – Can NATO Protect Us? The Challenges to Critical Infrastructure.

Threats to critical infrastructure, such as cyber attacks international terrorism and attacks on energy supply, can be devastating to the livelihoods of modern societies and cannot be met by military means alone. The conference with renowned speakers from NATO, academia and national administrations discussed NATO’s role in meeting security challenges to critical infrastructure.

The conference report can be downloaded here:


In addition to sources found on the internet (e.g. websites, news & blogs, reports, etc.), a select number of articles and books available from the NATO Multimedia Library have been included in this guide. These sources of information are by no means a comprehensive collection. The selection criteria was based on the sources' currency and relevancy to this topic.

Furthermore, quick search boxes for online databases subscribed by the Library (available to staff working at NATO HQ) as well as links to the library catalog are available for you to locate additional resources.


In the NATO Bucharest Summit Declaration (April 2008), the Heads of State and Government adopted a Policy on Cyber Defence (see para. 47): "NATO was one of the first to announce a cyber defense policy package in response to cyber attacks against Estonia in 2007" (from a dissertation published by Tartu University Press in 2011, Comprehensive legal approach to cyber security by Eneken Tikk).

In May 2008, seven NATO nations and the Allied Command Transformation signed the documents for the formal establishment of a Cooperative Cyber Defence (CCD) Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Tallinn, Estonia.

On 7 February 2010, NATO nations met to boost cooperation on cyber defence through multinational projects. The session was a follow-up to the Lisbon Summit and a high-level cyber defence meeting held at NATO Headquarters on 25 January 2011. On 27 February 2011 General Stéphane Abrial outlined NATO's cyberdefense efforts since the adoption of the New Strategic Concept in the New York Times op-ed NATO Builds Its Cyberdefenses. Establishing multi-national efforts in Cyber Defence will further enhance their cyber defence capabilities in a collaborative, cost-effective manner.

On June 8, 2011 NATO Defence Ministers adopted a new cyber defence policy. The policy focused on prevention of cyber attacks and building resilience. The policy clarified political and operational mechanisms of NATO’s response to cyber attack and integrated cyber defence into NATO’s Defence Planning Process.

According to Colonel Ilmar Tamm, Director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence from 2008-2012:

"...the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation cooperative cyber defence centre of excellence – or NATO CCD COE - is sponsoring and actively participating in the writing of the manual on international law applicable to cyber-warfare – or MILCW. This is expected to be published by the end of 2012. The manual is meant to address all the legal issues under a framework of both international use-of-force law and international humanitarian law. In addition, it examines related problems such as sovereignty, state responsibility and neutrality. We are confident that this manual will help the international community answer many unanswered questions, especially those regarding retaliation." (Source)

The NATO Rapid Reaction Team consisting of NATO cyber defence experts was operational in 2012. "The RRT capability will consist of a permanent core of six specialised experts who can coordinate and execute RRT missions. There will also be national or NATO experts in specific areas. Their numbers and profile will be determined on the basis of the mission to be carried out." (Source)

In March 2013, five NATO countries (Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Romania) agreed to collaborate on the “Multinational Cyber Defence Capability Development Project". The countries will "improve the sharing of technical information; shared awareness of threats; and develop advanced cyberdefense sensors." (Source)

In their first-ever meeting dedicated to cyber defence on 4 June 2013, NATO Defence Ministers agreed that the Alliance’s cyber-defence capability should be fully operational by the autumn 2013, extending protection to all the networks owned and operated by the Alliance. The NATO Secretary General said: “Cyber attacks do not stop at national borders. Our defences should not, either.” (Source)

"Scholars involved in a project sponsored by NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn will meet in February 2014 to consider what options governments have, under international law, to respond to cyberattacks from other countries." The project, called the Tallinn Manual 2.0, is due to be published in 2016 and is a follow-up to the 2012 Tallinn Manual. (Source: "NATO-backed Project Explores Legal Options To Respond to Cyberattacks" in Defense News, 23 January 2014).

In order to keep abreast with the rapidly changing threat landscape and maintain a robust cyber defence, NATO has adopted a new enhanced policy, which was endorsed by Allied defence ministers in June 2014. The policy establishes that cyber defence is part of the Alliance’s core task of collective defence, confirms that international law applies in cyberspace and intensifies NATO’s cooperation with industry. The top priority is the protection of the communication systems owned and operated by the Alliance.

The new policy also reflects Allied decisions on issues such as streamlined cyber defence governance, procedures for assistance to Allied nations, and the integration of cyber defence into operational planning (including civil emergency planning). Further, the policy defines ways to take awareness, education, training and exercise activities forward, and encourages further progress in various cooperation initiatives, including those with partner countries and international organisations. It also foresees boosting NATO’s cooperation with industry based on information sharing and cooperative supply chain management.

The growing sophistication of cyber attacks makes the protection of the Alliance’s communications and information systems (CIS) an urgent task. This objective has been recognized as a priority in NATO’s Strategic Concept, and has been reiterated in the two most recent Summit Declarations (Chicago in 2010 and Wales in 2014).

There is regular cooperation between the EU and NATO experts. On 10 February 2016, a Technical Arrangement on Cyber Defence was concluded between the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) and the Computer Emergency Response Team of the European Union (CERT-EU). The Technical Arrangement provides a framework for exchanging information and sharing best practices between emergency response teams. On 6 July 2016, the European Parliament's plenary adopted the Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems  (the 'NIS Directive'), which represents the first EU-wide rules on cybersecurity.

On 14 June 2016, Defence Ministers endorsed the recognition of cyberspace as a domain at the upcoming Warsaw Summit. In a Press conference following the North Atlantic Council meeting, NATO Secretary General added: "Cyber defence is part of collective defence".

On 17 October 2016, NATO Allied Command Transformation and the NATO Communications and Information Agency launched an independent research project to examine ways to streamline NATO’s cyber capability development and acquisition processes. Final report is expected in January 2017.

Acting on the decisions adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs decided on 6 December 2016 to endorse over 40 proposals to deepen NATO-EU cooperation in concrete areas, including cyber security and defence (Statement on the implementation of the Joint Declaration signed by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

In the Secretary General's Annual Report published on 13 March 2017, Jens Stoltenberg lists the important achievements which occurred in 2016 (p. 26).

This LibGuide is intended to provide a few starting points to assist you with your research on issues related to cyber defence, in particular, in the NATO context.

Good places to start your research include:

See also the Hybrid Warfare and the Warsaw Summit LibGuides.