Many things of profound historical importance happened in the Western alliance in 2016. Voters in the United Kingdom and the United States confounded expectations by voting, respectively, to leave the European Union
and elect a businessman with no previous governing experience as President. North Korea gave its most overt indications to date of the extent of its missile arsenal. Turkey saw off an attempted coup. International terrorism struck several European countries. More positively, for the purposes of human development, the proportion of the world connected to the internet passed the half-way point.
Yet for the Western alliance, one relatively unnoticed, but strategically crucial, development that took place in the rarefied atmosphere of international summitry may have some of the most important strategic ramifications.
In Warsaw, in July of that year, NATO formally recognized cyberspace as a domain of operations for the political and military alliance. This necessary recognition – that mutual defense and the ability to operate in this entirely
artificial human creation was now vital for the security of an alliance of free societies – reflected the remarkably rapid development of cyberspace in a few short decades.
The Warsaw declaration reflected the now obvious truth that, in the words of the communique, ‘cyber defence is a part of collective defence’ (NATO, 2016). It also reflected that NATO countries, and the alliance as a whole, would need
to develop and be able to deploy capabilities. But in its own note, issued at the time, a NATO CCDCOE researcher rightly concluded that what this would mean in practice would be ‘difficult to decode’ (Minárik, 2016). There are two
reasons for that. First, as well as being a contested domain of operations, cyberspace is, by and large, a civilian and private sector-led domain of largely peaceful and often commercial activity. Many of the main changes in cyberspace are not driven by governments at all, let alone those parts of governments primarily concerned with security. Second, the technologies driving
behaviour in cyberspace continue to develop at an astonishing rate.
So, this book is timely and vital and will be welcomed by many in government, business, academia and civil society as an excellent contribution to ‘decoding’ what it means for a political and military alliance of free societies
to deal collectively with cyber threats. It is a hugely positive contribution to ‘decoding’ the historic Warsaw communiqué of 2016.
How that declaration is implemented in the next decade is one of the most vital challenges of the 2020s. Technology has been essential to getting through the coronavirus pandemic and we depend on it now, more than
ever. Although technology has held up heroically in the face of increased demand, we have yet to fix the security of the technology we currently have, let alone the technologies of the future. None of Russia, Iran or North Korea
have an alternative vision of technology nor the means to deliver one.