Western allies consider offensive cyberwarfare agreement as Russia launches plan for ‘independent internet’

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Several Western nations are considering an offensive-minded cyberwarfare initiative meant to fundamentally change the way the countries react to attacks from adversary nations, Reuters reports. The accord would guide the deployment of offensive cyberweapons.

The agreement, being hammered out by the Denmark, Germany, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States, may be solidified by 2019. While all the nations involved are members of NATO, a NATO spokesperson speaking to CyberScoop was careful to point out that this is definitively not a NATO-backed initiative.

NATO itself recently announced it will establish new command centers to incorporate the cyber domain into operational planning. The alliance has seen an increasing number of attacks against members and institutions and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently said cyber-operations are a potential response any kind of attack against member countries.

Irina Novakova, a NATO official, detailed for CyberScoop the alliance’s increasing focus on cyberattacks including the decision that a severe cyberattack could trigger article 5, NATO’s collective defense clause.

“For NATO, it is always our aim to use minimum force to achieve maximum effect and therefore cyber effects may be the best response,” Stoltenberg said earlier this month at a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

NATO’s change in posture comes as the Russian government pushes plans to build an “independent internet infrastructure” to be used and controlled by BRICS, a collection of developing countries including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Western control of internet infrastructure has long been criticized by nations like Russia and China.

Russia’s plan, which has a deadline of Aug. 1, 2018, is being pushed because of the “increased capabilities of Western nations to conduct offensive operations in the informational space,” according to the Russian Security Council, “as well as the increased readiness to exercise these capabilities pose a serious threat to Russia’s security.”

Russia plans to route 95 percent of all internet traffic locally by 2020.

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