December 20, 2011

NATO activites and planned acquisition in the Cyberspace (second part)

News Report

Yesterday we focused our attention on the important developments that are occurring in the area of cyber defence within the NATO. By reporting the speech of NC3A's General Manager Mr Georges D’hollander (at the last AFCEA Cyber Security Defence Conference), we introduced the key activities that are under development within the Alliance for supporting member and partner Nations in the possible event of a significant cyber attack.

In this context, The NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) appears as the basic program that will increase NATO’s Cyber Defence capability to respond to computer security threats and vulnerabilities. NCIRC is expected to provide the means for handling and reporting incidents as well as disseminating important incident-related information to system and security management. It concentrates incident handling into one centralised and co-ordinated effort, thereby eliminating duplication of effort.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal and other news sources, NATO is starting to collect bids from more than 300 companies across its 28 member nations for the NCIRC. The list of the bidders includes some of the world's top defense companies, such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Finmeccanica, IBM and SAIC.

Finmeccaninca and Northrop Grumman, in particular, announced the signing of a cooperation agreement for bidding on the NCIRC. The agreement - which does not indicate timing or potential value - should meet the requirements for NCIRC Full Operational Capability (FOC). Finmeccanica will participate in the program through its Cyber ​​Solutions unit, a new brand which is responsible in for all the activites of the Group dealing with the Cybersphere. "This is an intense collaboration that combines the power, resources and expertise of both companies in the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy, which led to an offer capable of satisfying the requirements of this major program of NATO," said Alberto de Benedictis, CEO of Finmeccanica UK.

The €32 million ($42 million) contract for NCIRC, although valued at less than the price of one fighter jet, holds great significance because it cements the alliance's role in protecting cutting-edge infrastructure, say NATO officials.

In the meantime, NATO conducted from 13 to 15 December a cyber defence exercise in order to test technical and operational Alliance cyber defence capabilities. The exercise, called Cyber Coalition 2011, was an opportunity to test Alliance working procedures for responding to large scale cyber attacks targeting information infra-structures of NATO and individual countries. The exercise was based  on a fictitious crisis in which all participant nations had to deal with simulated cyber attacks. The scenario of the exercise required action, coordination and collaboration from cyber defence specialists and management bodies. A total of 23 NATO and six partner nations nations were involved in the exercise. Around 100 specialists took part in the exercise from locations in the Alliance’s SHAPE Headquarters in Mons and the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. A similar number of national experts participated from national cyber defence facilities in their respective countries. 

References: C4I Technology News (1), The Wall Street Journal (2), GovconWire (3), DedaloNews (4), NATO (5)

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