Panetta is critical on the security level for NATO networks

Pierluigi Paganini January 22, 2013

Today on Atlantic Council web site it has been published an excerpts from remarks by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at King’s College in London that remarks the inadequacy of NATO networks to reject cyber threats, according the officials the situation appears really critic in both private and public sectors, and it is very concerning also for military environments.

Cyber threat are evolving becoming increasingly sophisticated and the number of cyber attacks is increasing in impressive way according the data provided by principal security firms.

Hackers, cyber criminals, cyber terrorists, hacktivists and state sponsored actors are the forces that move the offensive against States and their assets causing “extraordinary physical and monetary damage”.

Despite the number of attacks against control system in critical infrastructures is increased in the last years, the principal losses are related to cyber attacks that try to obtain the control of the victims stealing in silent mode sensible information or financial credentials. Principal security firms agree that malicious trend will grow in 2013.

Companies, government agencies and private citizens are still too vulnerable to cyber attacks, and it is not easy to establish an early warning in case of offensive. Hackers are increasing their capabilities but we are assisting also to a dangerous trend, the resources necessary to conduct a cyber attacks are becoming available to everyone, it is quite easy to find and acquire in the underground exploits to hit any kind of targets.

It is impossible to distinguish cyber criminals by state sponsored hackers, in many cases the figures merge exactly as happen for other prolific business such as the weapon trade.

Panetta in his speech said:

“State and non-state actors are developing capabilities that could inflict extraordinary physical and monetary damage, could paralyze our economies and harm our infrastructure, take down our power grid system, take down our financial systems, take down our government systems, take down our banking systems.  That’s a reality.  That technology is real and threatening today. “

We all living in a technology era, the borderline between real world and cyberspace is thin and mutual interferences and interactions are increasing, a cyber strategy could influence a politic and vice versa, in many cases the disputes are moving in the what is considered  the fifth domain of warfare, the digital world.


A society that live in the cyber era must be able to guarantee free and secure access to cyber space to its population, and despite the effort spent by governments this is becoming increasingly difficult, Panetta highlighted that both US and Europe must make considerable effort to secure their assets, it is an investment but also a requirement that cannot be postponed.

Panetta added:

“For its part, NATO has made important progress in strengthening the security of its own networks, but those steps alone are not sufficient  to defend against the cyber threat.  The alliance needs to consider what its role should be in defending member nations from cyber-attacks.  We must begin to take the necessary steps to develop additional alliance cyber defense capabilities”

The words speak for themselves, we are facing with the necessity of making common factor in combating a growing threat, an offensive asymmetrical and unpredictable, for which containment it is required cooperation of all members of NATO.

Despite NATO has conducted important initiatives and made fundamental progresses in cyber security Panetta believes the effort is not sufficient because of the dynamic nature of the offense.

Security is a process that must growth day by day, a culture that must be diffused between populations of NATO  states members, that requests the strong commitments of central governments and their prolific collaboration to bolster defensive cyber operational capabilities.

Pierluigi Paganini

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