NATO chief says cyberattack could trigger collective defense

NATO chief says cyberattack could trigger collective defense
© Getty Images

The head of NATO is pressing the alliance to strengthen its cyber defenses, saying that a cyberattack could trigger the Article 5 principle of collective defense.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made the remarks ahead of a defense meeting in Brussels and the day after a massive ransomware campaign spread across the globe, affecting victims across Europe and the United States.

"[The] attack in May and this week just underlines the importance of strengthening our cyber defenses and that is what we are doing," Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday, according to AFP.


The Petya ransomware attack, which was first reported in Ukraine on Tuesday, occurred less than two months after the massive “WannaCry” ransomware campaign infected systems in more than 150 countries, including crippling Britain’s national health system. 

NATO has paid more attention to cybersecurity in recent years, declaring cyberspace a domain of operations at last year's Warsaw summit.

"We exercise more, we share best practices and technology, and we also work more and more closely with all allies," Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

The NATO chief said that the alliance was aiding Ukraine in protecting its systems in the wake of the ransomware attack this week.

Stoltenberg has previously said that a severe cyberattack could trigger Article 5, which declares that an attack on one ally is an attack on all.

"A severe cyber attack may be classified as a case for the alliance. Then NATO can and must react," Stoltenberg told a German newspaper last year, following the alliance’s decision to declare cyber a domain of warfare. "How, that will depend on the severity of the attack."

Article 5 was invoked for the first time following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks against the United States.