Nato signs new cyber security deal with US firm

British MEP Bill Etheridge has welcomed new efforts by Nato to tackle cyber warfare, saying the move will put the alliance "at the forefront of our cyber defences."

Nato signs new cyber security deal with US firm

He was commenting on Nato's newly-signed agreement with an American company which aims to bolster cyber information sharing.

The agreement comes after US President Barack Obama accused Russia of a cyberattack on the recent US elections and warned of threats of retaliation.

Obama accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating cyber hacking in a bid to sway the election in favour of Donald Trump. It is claimed the hackers got access to confidential details of Hillary Clinton's campaign Chair.

The outgoing President has now warned of "consequences."

As part of efforts to combat the cyber threat, the Nato communications and information (NCI) agency and the US-based FireEye, Inc. have signed what is called an 'industry partnership agreement' (IPA).

Jamie Shea, Nato's Deputy Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges, describes the deal as a "key piece in the jigsaw" in the ongoing fight against cyber warfare. 

The agreement, penned on Thursday, would give the western military alliance "enhanced awareness" of potential cyber threats, he said.

"This is particularly welcome and comes at a time when the cyber threat has never been higher," he said. "It will improve our ability to detect, prevent and respond to the cyber threat."

Shea said the agreement would boost cyber information sharing and "further strengthen" Nato and industry collective cyber defence.

The deal, he said, will foster timely information sharing on cyber threats, allowing both parties to enjoy "enhanced situational awareness" and better protect their networks.

Shea said, "You have to remember that 90 per cent of the cyber network is owned and run by the private sector so it is important that we have this sort of agreement.

"It should lead to a much greater range and exchange of information between Nato and private companies, which is especially important at a time when the cyber domain is under pressure. 

"In practice it will facilitate rapid and early bilateral exchange of non-classified technical information related to cyber threats and vulnerabilities."

This information will be integrated into the NCI agency's detection and prevention processes, "further enhancing Nato's cyber security posture."

He added, "Nato will contribute directly because this is a bilateral exchange of information. When it comes to tackling cyber warfare, it is a two way street."

Shea, who is based at Nato's headquarters in Brussels, said, "Being connected in this way is an absolute key to combating the cyber threat. FireEye has been very prominent in providing assistance on cyber issues in the US and this agreement is another key piece in the jigsaw puzzle in the ongoing efforts on cyber warfare."

Further comment came from Bill Etheridge, defence spokesperson for the UK Independence Party, who said, "It is great to see Nato at the forefront of our cyber defences. The alliance with FyreEye can only bring greater security against cyber threats. It is our links with Nato that need alliances such as this."

Koen Gijsbers, General Manager of the NCI Agency, said the agreement with FireEye represents an "important" part of the effort to bolster the alliance's cyber defence posture.

He said, "If we are going to move faster than the cyber threats we face, then it is absolutely imperative that we exchange timely and actionable threat information with industry.

"Our existing IPAs have already shown impressive results that are making a real difference to the NCI agency and our industry partners. FireEye's depth of expertise from responding to many of the largest cyber breaches in the world will be very valuable to the IPA framework. We look forward to a productive partnership."

At Nato's Warsaw summit earlier this year, Nato leaders emphasised the need for information sharing and strong industry partnerships to address cyber challenges.

Shea said the agreement bolsters further a programme that is already benefiting Nato and industry.

He pointed out that the IPA with FireEye is the ninth in a series of agreements through which the NCI agency and industry partners generate "high-quality" data resulting in a mutually improved ability to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber threats.


Bill Etheridge

MEP involved

Bill Etheridge