March 06, 2008


We may all wish NATO would put a few more boots on the ground in Afghanistan, but at least they're taking another problem -- cyber warfare -- seriously enough.

Nato is treating the threat of cyber warfare as seriously as the risk of a missile strike, according to a senior official.

A London conference was told that online espionage and internet-based terrorism now represent some of the gravest threats to global security.

Suleyman Anil, who is in charge of protecting Nato against computer attacks, said: "Cyber defence is now mentioned at the highest level along with missile defence and energy security.

"We have seen more of these attacks and we don't think this problem will disappear soon. Unless globally supported measures are taken, it can become a global problem."

Anil, who is head of Nato's computer incident response centre, told the E-Crime congress in London that the cost of hi-tech strikes on government communications was falling, while the amount of damage they could inflict grew.

Among the chief threats is cyber terrorism, in which attempts are made to shut down online communication networks or use the internet to attack official institutions. Although some have warned of the possible threat since the 1980s, it is only in recent years that the issue has made it onto the radar of governments around the world.