NATO’s biggest cyber warfare exercise, an electronic defensive drill named Cyber Coalition 2018, is taking place in Tartu, Estonia — about 30 miles from Russia’s border, seen by the West as the biggest cyber threat after a string of attacks blamed on the Kremlin.
Targets have included world sports bodies, the U.S. Democratic Party and the world chemical weapons watchdog in the Netherlands.
NATO says such assaults are becoming more “frequent, complex, destructive and coercive”, and are launched not just by state actors like Russia, China and North Korea but also by criminal gangs intent on extortion and “hacktivists” looking to embarrass big organizations.
“The price of entry into operations in cyber is extremely low,” said U.S. Colonel Don Lewis, deputy director of NATO’s new cyber operations center, set up this year.
“If you want to come at my nation in the air, you have to build an F-35 — that is not easy to do and it’s very, very expensive. But for the price of a latte at Starbucks and a laptop you can get on the internet and for a few hundred dollars you can get malware (malicious computer code) off the black web,” he explained.