March 13, 2012, 4:39 PM — ITworld has written a lot about the problems of the U.S. military and its inability to get a handle on the risk of cyberattack, even while the cyberattackers were wandering freely through the Pentagon's own systems.
The Pentagon got religion about cybersecurity earlier this year (though there's no evidence yet that it's reformed anything).
It's not clear if it's the Pentagon's problems or its new piety that pushed NATO over the edge, but the North American Treaty Organization announced today it is forming a cyberattack Rapid Reaction Team whose mission will be to counter attacks as they take place and, where possible, take the fight backto the enemy.
The center will be in the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability "nerve center" (an op center, but apparently not a big one).
NCIRC is responsible for defending all NATO sites and operations according to its director, who said the plan is to coordinate the work of experts from military, government and private companies.
Their marching order in case of attack is to "meet immediately and draw up a plan of action. The aim is to restore the systems so that everything gets back to normal operation as quickly as possible," according to the NATO press release.
That sounds OK, but so did all the blather spewed senselessly out of the Pentagon for years while it did nothing about actively defending itself against Chinese cyberspies who cracked the .mil long since.
You can't do anything but wish the NATO cyber-defense team well.
But if their mission begins with a plan to sit down and chat to see what to do if anything should actually happen – while it's actually happening – they might as well change the NATO logo to a target, at least online.
Defending a high-profile military organization from so relaxed a position, one from which emergency response is slow, if not impossible, is going to be a lot harder than defending Western Europe from Eastern Europe. That was the mission that kept NATO on its toes for years. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO may have forgotten what "rapid reaction" actually means.