Fictional Foe Attacking NATO In War Training Sounds A Lot Like Russia

The exercise drew more than1,000 participants from 30 countries, including the US (Representational)

Tallinn, Estonia:  In the space of a few hours, the advantages of the modern, Internet-connected world turned against the military personnel and hackers involved in a cybersecurity exercise in this Baltic city not far from the Russian border.

First, cellphone networks fell silent while an imaginary foe conducted naval exercises just off their country’s coast. Chemicals at water-treatment plants gushed into public supplies. Subversive protesters jammed the streets. The power grid flipped on and off. And then a hacked drone fell out of the sky and killed soldiers at a NATO base.

The exercise – which drew more than 1,000 participants from 30 countries, including the United States, and billed itself as the largest-ever such training – offered a glimpse of what military strategists fear could be the next big conflict. And it showed how NATO is scrambling to get ready.

“In military planning, countries are considering cyber in future conflicts, just like guns and tanks,” said Merle Maigre, the head of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, the Estonia-based organization that hosted the exercise.

NATO used to view preventing cyberattacks as its sole responsibility in the virtual world. But in 2014 it agreed that a cyberattack could trigger a military response, and last year the alliance decided to empower its military officers to conduct…

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