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'Cyber NATO' needed to unite liberal democracies

By Alexander J Martin, technology reporter, in Tallinn
Liberal democracies need a new defence organisation to avert cyber warfare, according to a former European leader.
Addressing a conference in Tallinn, ex-Estonian president Toomas-Hendrik Ilves said the region the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was established to protect no longer included all of the world powers sympathetic to liberal democracy.Despite the attendance of numerous American military personnel, his comments followed significant unease towards the alliance by the Trump administration.He stressed how nations including Japan and Australia were supportive of core liberal values, and were participants in the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) - NATO's primary cyber security forum based in Tallinn - although neither nations are NATO members.Democratic values - including supporting human rights, the rule of law, and believing in properly contested elections - should be the requirement for membership of the new military alliance, rather than geographic location.
'Cyber NATO' needed to unite liberal democracies

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Mr Ilves described Russian President Vladimir Putin as 'Darth Putin'
Mr Ilves, who referred to the Russian president as "Darth Putin," noted how the use of the internet as an open platform was something unique to liberal democracies.In Russia and China, the governments of whom signed a cyber security pact in 2015, the internet is heavily monitored and censored by the government, as it is in countries such as Iran.All three nations have been aggressive and malicious actors in cyber space.While the cyber security agreement mainly establishes non-aggression between Russia and China, both are regularly accused of supporting attacks against liberal democracies - attacks which Mr Ilves said require a trasnational organisation in response.He warned that the values of liberal democracies make them more vulnerable to cyber attacks than autocracies.
'Cyber NATO' needed to unite liberal democracies

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg giving a speech at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Spring Session
Manipulating an election is only an issue if there is an expectation that the elections should be conducted legitimately, Mr Ilves said.Russia and China have loomed as bogeymen to the West, engaging in military cooperation and performing joint naval exercises in the Baltic Sea, where NATO holds its annual physical training operations too.Despite the regularity of NATO's physical drills, the organisation has responded poorly to cyber attacks, whether on critical national infrastructure or democratic systems, Mr Ives said.He repeated his call for a new international coalition and stated that the "O" in NATO was the most important letter.
'Cyber NATO' needed to unite liberal democracies

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Speaking at a conference organised by the CCD COE, which is hosting hundreds of individuals involved in cyber defence, Mr Ilves reminded the participants of its origins.The centre of excellence was the product of a good and positive reaction to a series of suspected Russian cyber attacks on Estonia in 2007, he said.
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Mr Ives added that if Mr Putin's intention was to stress and demotivate Estonia with those attacks, or even make it vulnerable, then he could not have been less successful.The CCD COE's annual conference considers how states should respond to cyber attacks and allows senior policy professionals, military commanders and technical experts to network.
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