NATO’s Role in Global Cyber Security

This paper is part of a series called: NATO in a New Era: Global Shifts, Global Challenges. The full series is available, here

Malicious cyber activity has increased substantially over the past years, ranging from ransomware and espionage to politically motivated cyberattacks and sophisticated malware used in the war in Ukraine. NATO allies must remain on high alert.

The changed nature of military conflict changes the defensive mission of NATO, which faces capable opponents in cyberspace and raises the question of how to create accountability when a hostile state fails to observe globally agreed norms.

The set of action for NATO for the next five years evolves around how to impose costs and how to deny benefits against malicious actors in cyberspace.


What the war in Ukraine says about cyber power is yet not entirely cleared from the fog of war. Many aspects remain uncertain, but given the unpredictability of the Putin regime, the risk of an escalation in hostile cyber exchanges between Russia and NATO states remains high. What is clear is that, as of February 24, 2022, we live in a different world in which the European and global security orders have been shattered.

This brief first explores the challenge that cyber threats pose to NATO allies and how the rapidly evolving cyber-threat landscape can alter the international security environment. Secondly, it looks at developments in cyber defense policy within NATO. Finally, the brief analyzes how NATO needs to adapt to address cyber challenges, studying how allies align their sovereign interests, capabilities, and cyber doctrines with NATO operational requirements and strategic ambitions. NATO is set to issue strategic documents in 2022 that will guide the next decade of its military planning. This will certainly require more transatlantic consultation on political-military matters with an emphasis on cyber security and cyber defense.

Cyber Challenge to World and NATO Allies

Malicious cyber activity has increased substantially over the past years while the world has kept turning amid the omnipresent pandemic and now war in Ukraine. States, non-state actors, and criminal groups compete and are…