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Defence & Security

Cyber Defence – More than just the Technical Protection of Systems

17 May 2016, by Informa Insights


Cyber criminals, hackers, hacktivists and foreign intelligence services are deploying increasingly sophisticated methods of accessing the online services of organisations. And with the Military’s growing reliance on online systems, equivalent sophistication in cyber defence is required.

But what makes for an adequate cyber defence strategy, in the current climate?

We spoke with NATO who recently overhauled their entire cyber defence posture in response to the rapidly evolving threat landscape and an ever-pressing need to protect information assets and communication systems, within the Alliance.

“There is a tendency for organisations to focus solely on traditional, or technical, threats”, says Leader of Task Force Cyber, Colonel Rizwan Ali. “While these are an important concern, they represent only a portion of overall cyber situational awareness”.

Colonel Ali researched, devised and implemented a framework within the NATO structure, consisting of threat, network and mission awareness.

“As well as technical vulnerabilities, attackers actively pursue and exploit physical and procedural weaknesses; but, as identified in my research, these are often overlooked in an organisation’s cyber defence policy”.

Procedural vulnerabilities take many forms and may be as simple as failing to safeguard information which may be useful to an attacker.

One of the many needs identified and addressed by his framework was better training and interdepartmental collaboration in preventing and minimising cyber-attacks.

“We regularly upskill our technical teams”, he says. “But equally importantly we deliver training to non-technical departments, in order to prevent basic user errors.”

By providing a more holistic picture of the threat landscape, the framework has significantly mitigated risk and given greater confidence to all intelligence teams within the Alliance.

Hear more about NATO’s Cyber Defence framework at the Australian Defence Magazine’s forthcoming Cyber Defence summit.


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