Jens Stoltenberg

A major global cyber attack which struck particularly hard in Ukraine on Tuesday could potentially trigger NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense commitment, according to NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

On Tuesday, computer systems around the world were subjected to ransomware cyber attacks that spread from Ukraine and Russia, across Europe to the United States and then on to Asia.

The attack appeared to be a modification of the “WannaCry” cyber attack in May which hit more than 200,000 users in more than 150 countries.

According to NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg, the attack means that the NATO alliance must step up its defense against cyber attacks and that the military alliance’s Article 5 mutual defense commitment could potential be sparked over such an event.

Article 5 provides that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider the attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the ally attacked.

Stoltenberg said the “attack in May and this week just underlines the importance of strengthening our cyber defenses and that is what we are doing.”

“We exercise more, we share best practices and technology and we also work more and more closely with all allies,” he told reporters ahead of a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

In July 2016, NATO allies reaffirmed defensive mandates and recognized cyberspace as a domain of operations in which NATO must defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land and at sea.

Interior Minister of Ukraine, MP Anton Gerashchenko was quick to place the fault of the attack on Russia, saying that “a huge cyber-attack at Ukrainian companies on Tuesday has been organized by Russian intelligence services and it is one of the elements of the hybrid war against Ukraine.”

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