Nato chief: serious cyberattack could trigger collective defence commitment

Jens Stoltenberg has said cybercrime could trigger Article 5, where an attack on one ally is an attack on all

August 27, 2019
Photo: Zhang Cheng/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
Photo: Zhang Cheng/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of Nato, has said that a serious cyberattack would be sufficient to trigger the alliance’s collective defence commitment, where an attack against one ally is treated as an attack against all.

In an exclusive article for Prospect, the defence chief writes “For Nato, a serious cyberattack could trigger Article 5 of our founding treaty."

Article 5 has been triggered only once, after the September 11th attacks. But “we have designated cyberspace a domain in which Nato will operate and defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea.”

Prior to his role as the head of Nato, Stoltenberg was Norwegian prime minister from 2000-2001 and again from 2005-2013. He assumed his current position with the North Atlantic alliance in 2014.

“Cyber threats to the security of our alliance are becoming more frequent, more complex and more destructive,” he writes in his new column.

“We register suspicious activity against our systems every day."

The intervention speaks to a growing fear about the changing security threat in the 21st century. Risk is no longer confined to the physical world and securing cyber networks is an urgent priority.

The article forms part of Prospect’s new cyber report, published later this week with additional contributions from former GCHQ head David Omand and Head of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy Margaret Beckett.

For Stoltenberg, “Cyberspace is the new battleground and making Nato cyber-ready—well-resourced, well-trained, and well-equipped—is a top priority as we look towards the Nato summit in London in December and beyond.”

Read more from Prospect's cyber resilience supplement