NATO to set up cyberwarfare center

Estonia home base for research and defense

NATO plans to set up a cyberdefense center in Estonia later this year to research and help fight cyberwarfare, the organization announced Wednesday.

The Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence will operate out of Tallinn, Estonia, with a staff of 30. Half of the specialists at the center will come from its seven sponsoring countries: Germany, Italy, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Estonia.

Cyberwarfare has been on NATO's radar for the past year, following the widely reported cyberattack against member country Estonia in May 2007. The attacks, which security experts have compared to a poorly coordinated cyberbrawl, succeeded in knocking some financial systems in the country offline for several hours, prompting Estonia to ask for help from NATO.

The attacks were sparked by the relocation of the Soviet war memorial in downtown Tallinn, a move that angered the country's ethnic Russians. Russia was blamed for the attacks, although no Kremlin connection to the cyberincident has been proven.

Allied defense ministers pressed for a NATO cyberdefense policy at their October 2007 meeting, a move that led to the creation of the Cyber Defence Centre, NATO said in a statement.

The center will help NATO "defy and successfully counter the threats in this area," said General James Mattis, NATO's supreme allied commander, transformation, in the statement.

The new cyberwarfare center is expected to be online in August and will be formally opened sometime in 2009, according to an Associated Press report.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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