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Hunt: Britain has helped 16 NATO allies tackle Russia hacking attempts

Then-UK Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt and Dr. Mark Davies visit the Center for Total Health. (Ted Eytan/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

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, AFP and other media outlets reported.

In a speech at the NATO Cyber Defense Pledge Conference in London, Hunt will accuse Russian intelligence services of mounting a “global campaign” targeting critical infrastructure.

“I can disclose that in the last 18 months, the National Cyber Security Centre has shared information and assessments with 16 NATO allies — and even more nations outside the alliance — of Russian cyberactivity in their countries,” Hunt is expected to tell the event, which will also be attended by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and NATO ambassadors.

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

“This global campaign also seeks to compromise central government networks,” he will warn, according to excerpts from the address released by Britain’s Defense Ministry.

“Together, we possess options for responding to any attacks. We should be prepared to use them,” Hunt is expected to warn.

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.

Hunt is also expected to say that attempts to influence elections in the United States and Ukraine “breach international law — and justify a proportionate response.”

Stoltenberg will also deliver a speech warning that cyberattacks could “damage our economies, undermine our democracies, and have a crippling impact on military capabilities.”

The NATO chief is expected to tell the conference that the alliance is beefing up its resources to tackle cyberthreats.

“Allies are ready to use cybercapabilities to fight, but potential attackers must know that we are not limited to a cyberresponse against attacks,” Stoltenberg will warn, according to a copy of his speech obtained by news agencies.

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.

“It is a recognition that hybrid threats, including cyberthreats, need a whole of a government response,” the secretary-general is expected to add.

“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.”

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.