In the wake of a U.S. government warning that it might pursue military action in response to cyber attacks, computer experts representing NATO countries are meeting this week in Tallinn, Estonia, for a conference regarding internet security.
The U.S. announced its hard-line stance just days before an FBI-affiliated company in Atlanta was hacked by a group known as LulzSec.
As the Tallinn meeting got underway, signs pointed to NATO’s sympathy with the American position. Speaking to the AFP, Colonel Ilmar Tamm, head of NATO's Cyber Defence Centre, said, “It is a logical step for militaries to develop capabilities to counter cyber attacks.”
NATO has also published a draft report raising the question of whether military action should be considered viable retaliation for internet attacks.
According to Fast Company, the NATO report has drawn criticism for proposing to target “hacktivist” groups like LulzSec, which some consider heroic for uncovering government or corporate ineptitude and wrongdoing.
But the line between hacktivism and projects that threaten national security, like WikiLeaks, is blurred. For example, LulzSec characterized an attack on PBS as punishment for a PBS Frontline documentary about WikiLeaks.