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Hunt: Britain Has Helped 16 NATO Allies Tackle Russia Hacking Attempts

May 23, 2019

Britain has shared information on Russian cyberactivities with 16 NATO allies, helping them counter malicious threats against their countries over the past year and a half, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce on May 23.

In a May 23 speech at the NATO Cyber Defense Pledge Conference in London, Hunt accused Russian intelligence services of mounting a "global campaign" to "compromise central government networks."

The event was attended by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who warned that the Western military alliance was ready to use all means at its disposal to respond to cyberattacks.

The remarks by Hunt and Stoltenberg reflect persistent tension between Russia and the West, where governments have accused Moscow of using cyberattacks and social-media activity to sow discord abroad and increase its global clout.

London's relations with Moscow have deteriorated considerably since the poisoning last year of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the southern British city of Salisbury.

"I can disclose that in the last 18 months, the National Cyber Security Center has shared information and assessments with 16 NATO allies -- and even more nations outside the alliance -- of Russian cyberactivity in their countries," Hunt told the London gathering, which was also attended by NATO’s ambassadors.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Center was set up in October 2016.

"Together, we possess options for responding to any attacks. We should be prepared to use them," the British foreign secretary warned.

Hunt said that attempts to influence elections in the United States and Ukraine "breach international law -- and justify a proportionate response."

In his speech, Stoltenberg said that NATO was beefing up its resources to tackle cyberthreats.

"Hybrid threats, including cyberthreats, need a whole of a government response," the NATO chief said, adding: “It takes just one ‘click’ to send a cybervirus spreading across the globe, but it takes a global effort to stop it from inflicting chaos.”

A meeting of national security advisers from all of NATO's 29 member states is scheduled at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels next week.

NATO pledged to build up national cyberdefenses at a summit in Warsaw in 2016.

At the same summit, the alliance also agreed that there be an annual Cyber Defense Pledge Conference.

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