NATO cyber-defence competition

20/12/2011

NATO is currently collecting bids from international defence contractors to strengthen its cyber-defence capabilities. Among the bidders are companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The contract in question is worth 32 million Euros, however it manifests the Alliance’s strategy to enhance the protection of its own infrastructure, as Suleyman Anil, Head of Office of NATO’s Cyber Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) Coordination Centre, said: “It's a small amount of money but it's technically ambitious.” The contract, connected to the work of the NCIRC, includes the collection and verification of large amounts of the Alliance’s data, covering its activities from the US to Afghanistan. It focuses on the prevention and detection of cyber-attacks and encompasses software, support, hardware, as well as mobile cyber-defence kits for rapid reaction and centralized systems to be run from NATO headquarters in Brussels. It is also aimed at improving the cyber-defence of NATO member states’ national infrastructures.

The list of potential bidders includes more than 300 companies, ranging from classical defence contractors to IT firms such as IBM and Cisco Systems. After the adoption of NATO’s new cyber-defence policy by defence ministers in June 2011, this ongoing competition represents another important step of NATO’s approach to future security challenges. For the companies the contract offers the possibility for more lucrative and long-term follow-up contracts with the Alliance, as Paul MacGregor, Director of Finmeccanica Cyber Solutions, an Italian contractor bidding together with Northrop Grumman, confirmed: “There could be a long comet’s tail of opportunity from an industrial perspective.” The winner of the contract is aimed to be announced early next year, and the systems should start running by the end of the year.

The SDA recently launched its cyber-security initiative, where Paul MacGregor was one of the speakers at the SDA’s evening debate on “Defining cyber-security”. An upcoming policymakers’ dinner will focus on the questions of public-private cooperation in cyber-security, featuring NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Ambassador Gábor Iklódy and EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes.