Cover: Cyber Threats to NATO from a Multi-Domain Perspective

Cyber Threats to NATO from a Multi-Domain Perspective

Published in: Cyber Threats and NATO 2030: Horizon Scanning and Analysis, Chapter 7, pages 126–150 (2020)

Posted on Jan 12, 2021

by James Black, Alice Lynch

This paper situates cyber threats within the wider context of a continued shift towards multi-domain concepts by NATO Allies and adversaries alike. These emerging concepts emphasise the importance of integration for achieving advantage; however, with greater connectivity and network-dependency comes greater potential vulnerability and consequences from disruption.This paper considers challenges associated with closer integration within and across military domains and examines how potential adversaries (Russia and China) are embracing variations on multi-domain and systems thinking and prioritising offensive cyber capabilities to exploit seams and vulnerabilities to disorientate, paralyse and demoralise NATO in any future conflict. Acknowledging that cyber attacks do not exist in a vacuum, this paper places discussions of cyber threats in the context of how the Alliance plans to operate, fight and win in future competition and conflict. In doing so, it highlights the adversary's perspective on how, when and why it might employ cyber capabilities to gain an advantage over NATO forces. The paper then considers the implications for NATO in terms of internal barriers, limitations and vulnerabilities that challenge the Alliance's ability to respond to these threats. Improved understanding of the interlinkages between these external threats and internal vulnerabilities is essential in achieving the genuine and wide-reaching transformation required for the Alliance to bolster its cohesion, improve its strategic resilience and ensure its ability to realise its ambitions in cyberspace and across all domains.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.