Cyberattack Targets NATO Special Operations HQ Websites

Al Mayadeen [English]

NATO alliance spokesperson revealed that the NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) websites came under a cyberattack on Sunday, as reported by dpa.

The spokesperson noted that several websites were targeted at once and that an investigation has been launched by cyber experts from the alliance.

The German news agency, dpa, further noted that information on social media suggested that the pro-Russian hacker group KillNet was behind the attack that made NSHQ websites temporarily unavailable.

However, these claims have not been proven and no substantiating evidence was provided.

NATO prepares for cyberwarfare integrated with military operations

As world conflicts have morphed from traditional bombs and footsoldiers into more sophisticated and complex fields such as cyberspace, POLITICO reported, on December 4 last year, that around 150 NATO cybersecurity experts have convened in Estonia to make preparations for an upcoming anticipated cyberwar.

“There is a level of seriousness added; it’s not anymore so fictitious. It has become quite obvious those things are happening in reality,” Colonel Bernard Hansen, director of the Cyberspace department at NATO Command Transformation, said, referring to the current war in Ukraine.

“It has made it much more live, it’s reality,” Major Tobias Malm from the HQ of the Swedish Armed Forces stated regarding the events in Ukraine.

“It’s the real world, you sit in the middle of it, and it’s a daily struggle to address these issues.”

According to the news site, the events in Ukraine brought NATO to consider the scenario to be “all too real” as Russia is actively engaging in cyberattacks against Kiev and targeting vital infrastructure that could cause more damage to a country than traditional warfare, including cutting the water off, shutting down electricity, and putting metro stations in a state of mayhem, among many other scenarios.

The cyber experts in NATO have been closely monitoring the war to draw up lessons in order to prepare member states against cyberattacks carried out by adversaries, which, in turn, have elevated the importance of the alliance’s annual Cyber Coalition exercise that aims to join efforts of over 40 member states and their allies, in addition to several organizations, to cooperate on training to defend cyber operations targeting critical infrastructure (power grids, etc.) and respond to them.

It’s noteworthy that in 2008, NATO established the Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) following a large-scale cyberattack on Estonia’s governmental networks in 2007, which the country’s officials quickly blamed on Russia at first, but later Tallinn officials admitted that they lacked conclusive evidence to implicate the Kremlin.