British defense officials call for more cooperation between NATO, EU on cyber

British defense officials call for more cooperation between NATO, EU on cyber
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Officials with Britain’s Defense Ministry on Monday called for greater cooperation on cybersecurity between NATO and the European Union. 

The demands come in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the EU, which British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon indicated Monday would not affect Britain’s security cooperation with other European nations.

Fallon and Stephen Lovegrove, the Defense Ministry’s permanent secretary, both said in separate remarks on Monday that NATO and EU should strengthen cooperation on cybersecurity. 

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“NATO is not an organization solely about European security. It is an alliance for Euro-Atlantic security including the U.S. homeland and the waters in between,” Lovegrove said in a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., Monday afternoon. “We have perhaps grown too comfortable considering our shared ocean is safe, somewhere we don’t have to worry too much about. That is wrong.”

“Against evermore complex problems, we must bring together military and nonmilitary responses, and that means making the most of the agreement at Warsaw last year to invigorate the strategic relationship between NATO and the EU, including cooperation on cybersecurity and boosting cooperation counter-hybrid capabilities,” Lovegrove said. 

He specifically cited threats from Russia’s “hybrid model” of warfare. 

Separately, Fallon made a similar call for deepened cyber cooperation between the two partnerships during a meeting of the European Union defense ministers in Brussels on Monday. 

“Today I have urged the EU to cooperate more closely with NATO, to avoid unnecessary duplication and to work together on new threats, including cyber,” Fallon said, according to quotes posted on the ministry’s website.

Russia’s cyber and influence campaign targeting the United States presidential election has stoked fears about the potential for future cyberattacks aimed at European elections.   

In February 2016, NATO and the EU agreed to a technical arrangement to boost information sharing on cyber-related matters. NATO member states also recognized cyberspace as a domain of operations in which the alliance must defend itself and pledged to boost their cyber defenses at the Warsaw Summit last July. 

More recently, NATO deepened cooperation on cyber defense with Finland, which shares a border with Russia.

NATO has also boosted its traditional defenses in Europe in the face of mounting Russian aggression in Ukraine. Moscow has described the buildup as a threat to its own security.