Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves opened the third international conference organized by the Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence and touched upon the asymmetry of cyber threats.
Ilves said that there have already been cases of actual or prevented aggression against nation-states carried out in cyberspace.
'Were they to have been carried out with kinetic weapons, we in NATO would be faced minimally with an Article 4 and most likely with an Article 5 scenario,' the Estonian leader said last week.
'We have no conception of how to define aggression in cyberspace or redefine it for cyberspace; we lack clear attribution to any political entity; we lack a response doctrine to apply were we to know who committed the aggression; and we have not dealt with the possibility of asymmetry, i.e., what if an effectively military action was perpetrated in its entirety by a small group of unknown hackers,' Ilves said.
'This means that even before we can talk about the hardware and software side of cyber defense and cyber warfare, we have to develop a conceptual consensus.' he added.
Ilves also said that since critical infrastructure - electricity grids, transportation and mobile phone networks - are so enmeshed with and tied to the Internet - any open society is vulnerable.
'As much of our critical infrastructure is also transnational - we require a transnational approach. We need to make our transnational computer-dependent critical infrastructure resilient, that is to say, if not impervious then at least maximally shielded from the dangers of an attack,' Ilves said.
The conference on Cyber Conflict brought together more than 300 computer security specialists from 39 countries. During the event, specialists from government, the private sector and the academia discussed cyber security in three parallel conference tracks: strategy, law and technical. Keynote speakers were to include: cryptographer Bruce Schneier and former cyber security adviser to the U.S. president, Melissa Hathaway. The conference ended on June 18.
The Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence is a NATO-accredited multinational organization dealing with education, consultation, research and development in the field of cyber security. The center's mission is to enhance the capability, cooperation and information sharing among NATO, NATO nations and partners in cyber defense.
In a related matter, Richard Marshall, director of global cyber security management, National Cyber Security Division at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, gave the keynote address at the sixth annual SecureAmericas information security conference that was scheduled for May 24-25 in Virginia.