Several NATO allies are currently in the process of designing new cyber security mechanisms to fight state-sponsored computer criminals.
According to a report by Reuters, a group of key NATO countries are preparing to take a more "muscular response" to the rise of state-sponsored cyber crime.
They're reportedly ready to generate their own cyber attacks to up the pressure on the IT infrastructure of enemy countries, the report claims.
The US, Britain, Germany, Norway, Spain, Denmark Netherlands are working on plans to delegate guides on how their militaries should use cyber attack weapons against enemies.
In the past, NATO has accused countries such as Russia, China and North Korea of trying to destabilise Western countries by hacking into state infrastructure. A new agreement could come into force by early 2019.
US Navy Commander Michael Widmann, from the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, said its members are increasingly investing in cyber warfare methods to fight-off, and respond to, attacks from state-sponsored hackers.
"There's a change in the (NATO) mindset to accept that computers, just like aircraft and ships, have an offensive capability," he said, as quoted by Reuters.
"I need to do a certain mission and I have an air asset, I also have a cyber asset. What fits best for me to get the effect I want?."
Bill Evans, senior director at One Identity, suggested that NATO is looking to treat computers the same as military aircraft, tanks and ships.
"Recently, it was announced that NATO is considering a more muscular response to state-sponsored computer hackers that could involve using cyber attacks to bring down enemy networks," he said.
"Moreover, in 2014, NATO declared cyber as a domain of warfare putting it on equal footing with land, air and sea. However, NATO has not yet defined the details behind cyberwarfare."
But, as Evans notes, there are risks. "On the one hand, it's likely high time that NATO begin considering how cyber can be weaponised and integrated into both defensive, which is already occurring, and offensive battle plans," he added.
"To be sure, NATO adversaries are already doing this. However, there are risks. Unlike "smart bombs" that can pinpoint the damage to an air strip or enemy fortress, cyber attacks are far less specific.
"Consider an attack at an enemy's power station. Surely this will cut off power to the enemy's ground forces, but it might also pull the power from a local hospital or senior citizen's facility - certainly not the moral high ground that NATO prefers."
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