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NATO, in front of a cyberwar with the fictitious Stellaia

The alliance is attacking the escalation of computer attacks. Some 900 soldiers recreate threats in maneuvers in Estonia

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NATO, in front of a cyberwar with the fictitious Stellaia

A young hooded with clandestine air is preparing to complicate life of NATO itself. "It's not worth being alert." All because we will come to destroy, "defies, with distorted voice, in a brief video attributed to organization Blueweeder." This group of hackers has been proposed to block mission that Atlantic Alliance has deployed in Tytan, an unstable neighbouring state and threatened by a neighboring power that is dedicated to sowing confusion. Activists close NATO without a single soldier and no more guns than a pair of well-equipped computers.

This scenario — fictitious but realistic, as described by its creators — has held this week on computer to 900 military distributed by vast majority of allied states. The military exercise intended to test resistance to a attack of high intensity, sponsored by an imaginary state, of name Stellaia, which controls an ethnic minority in Tytan and that uses all means at its disposal to gain influence. A situation easily comparable to that seen by NATO in its closest neighborhood, with Russia interfering with Ukraine's stability.

The organization recorded an average of 500 monthly incidents in 2016 and believes that majority are supported by a state

In command of offensive are 100 military personnel concentrated in a dark room of Allied base of Tartu (Estonia). In face of large doses of atre that distill conventional military exercises (with tanks, ammunition and uniformed races), so-called Cibercoalición 2017, to which country has been invited, is almost silent. The control cell operating in Baltic country sends threats to military working in 25 of 29 allied states, including Spain. Everything happens between screens. Participants must resolve mess with utmost celerity. "The hardest part is whenever y communicate with each or." You know how experts in information technology are, "jokes Anders Kuusk, Estonian military man who runs exercise."

The proliferation of cyber-attacks forces us to improve those capacities. Only last year, NATO counteded an average of 500 monthly incidents, 60% more than in 2015. Without wanting to identify anyone, organization argues that most were backed by "State agents." "The cyber are opportunists." They don't come from nowhere; There is a political motivation behind to discredit, ' abounds Tanel Sepp, cyber expert of Estonian Ministry of Defence. Training in a joint way allows you to face an aggression that rarely strikes a single country.

Experts say false news is part of same strategy

The writers of exercise developed in Estonia recreate situations that y consider feasible. The attackers override NATO mission air defence radar in Tytan. They also deploy drones equipped with listening devices. And y manage to access mobiles of military, a maneuver that allows to extract compromised information. A smear campaign against NATO and EU in social networks completes list of hostilities.

The organization is silent on outcome of se simulations. The analysis that each year derives from exercise of cyber is confidential. "We use faults as a teaching." The participants are in a relaxed atmosphere, have three days to solve it ... if y do not succeed, it is important to know why, "argues Lieutenant Kuusk." A Spanish military officer who calls for anonymity adds that exercise serves primarily to "know who to call" in event of a multiple-goal attack.

Difficult to identify

Estonia's choice as basis for this essay is not coincidental. The country breas for wound after having registered, 10 years ago, a great attack that damaged some infrastructures. He had previously unleashed a campaign of agitation that ended with a dead and 156 wounded in streets. Since n, authorities have tried to shield mselves against threat, also with offensive methods. But main challenge remains to identify its origin. The 2007 episode was unofficially attributed to Russia, but it is difficult to prove.

The Baltic country suffered a strong attack in 2007 attributed to Russia

As a sign of this commitment to cyber, Estonia has a centre of excellence operating within framework of NATO. Its director, Merle Maigre, admits difficulties of attribution, but it defends need to act in case of attacks. Beyond damage to infrastructure, Maigre notes that episodes of disinformation and attempts to interfere in recent elections in European countries raise political interest in this area, previously reserved for technicians. "If we widen photo, misinformation and false news are part of threat set." It is necessary to develop technological skills and so-called strategic communication, closes this expert.


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