In 2011 NATO started to formulate a rapid reaction team concept for this purpose. "These cyber defence experts are responsible for assisting member states which ask for help in the event of an attack of national significance," Alex Vandurme explains.
The creation of this team was a result of the NATO cyber defence policy, which was revised by defence ministers in June 2011. In future, additional efforts will be devoted to risk prevention and enhanced resilience.
"The types of cyber attacks experienced by Estonia and Georgia will become the most frequent form of cyber attack in the future. A mixture of protest, or traditional war, and a cybernetic element," Alex Vandurme continues.
The rapid reaction teams must therefore by ready to act when assistance is requested. They should be operational by the end of 2012.
So far, a number of steps have already been taken, and the NCIRC should achieve full operational capability in early 2013. All the technical requirements have been identified and a call for bids has been launched.
Cooperation arrangements are being developed, involving experts among whom there is mutual confidence and who come from the nations, from industry, from academia and from NATO. These arrangements will eventually open up access to specialised expertise in all areas of cyber security. The profiles of experts needed for assistance missions, specifying the areas of competence, are also being prepared.
"All the RRT procedures and possible actions are defined in a handbook which should be finished by summer 2012," says Alex Vandurme. "This manual also sets out the guidelines for NATO's response to its Allies and partners who request assistance in the protection of their information and communication systems".
An ad hoc working group has been set up to work on this handbook. It brings together national experts from Allied countries, including civil emergency planning experts.
"With the RRTs, NATO will be able to offer, upon request, professional and well-organised assistance to its members and partners, but principally to those countries which do not yet have the resources to set up cyber defence capabilities of this kind. It's a version of the military principle of mutual assistance and collective defence," Alex Vandurme continues.