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NATO Warns They See Cyber Attacks As Serious As Armed Attacks

Sun Jun 20 2021

NATO member States are worried over China and Russia’s increasingly aggressive cyber-activities

NATO has issued a warning that any cyber-attacks from a hostile nation state against any NATO member could be seen as amounting to the same as an armed attack in the right circumstances.

That warning was issued in a joint communiqué at the end of last week’s summit in Brussels and highlighted that Article 5 of the NATO treaty could now also apply to cyber-attacks (Article 5 states an armed attack against any NATO State would be considered an attack against them all) and any cyber-attack by a hostile state could lead to its invocation.

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Reaffirming NATO's defensive mandate, the Alliance is determined to employ the full range of capabilities at all times to actively deter, defend against, and counter the full spectrum of cyber threats, including those conducted as part of hybrid campaigns, in accordance with international law

NATO release

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The statement did however go on to say that each attack would be taken on a case-by-case basis.


Ironically, NATO was originally set up as a defence and a deterrent against armed Russian aggression following WW2 but the alliance has had to broaden that definition to includes cyber-attacks to address the threats of a modern world.


NATO have commented before that cyber-threats to their member countries are becoming more complex, frequent and destructive and that they need to be prepared to defend their members networks and operations from state sponsored actors, with many concerned in particular about the threat that Russia and China pose in cyber-space.


The joint communiqué mentions both countries as threats, with Russia being mentioned 63 separate times for its aggressive behaviour and China ten times.

NATO leaders have said that China’s “assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security”.

They also urged China to uphold its global commitments, whilst acting responsibly on the global stage.

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China has become a new strategic consideration for NATO but the organisation does not want to descend into a new Cold War with them.

Boris Johnson – Prime Minister, UK

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The timing of the warning is telling, with the USA falling victim to several recent cyber-attacks, the most recent being the Colonial Pipeline attack back in May.

December 2020 also saw over nine federal agencies and a score of private firms targeted as part of the now infamous SolarWinds campaign by Russian cyber-actors, with the USA blaming Russia’s SVR for the attacks.

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Sun Jun 20 2021

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