EU defense ministers join cyber-attack exercise

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A group photo during the informal meeting of the EU ministers of defence in Tallinn, Estonia, on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Liis Treimann)

EU defense ministers on Thursday held a cyber-attack exercise on how they would respond to an assault on the bloc’s military structures.

The ministers, as well as diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, took part in the exercise in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

Juri Luik, Estonia’s defense minister, told reporters ahead of the table-top exercise that cyber threats “do not recognize national boundaries or the barriers between organizations. It is therefore important to perform joint exercises of this kind.

“We must exchange information and have a common understanding, in order to ensure improved preparedness for dealing with cyber threats.”

The EU said the two-hour exercise saw defense ministers “sent information about various attacks that shut down part of the European Union’s military structure, and the ministers had a limited amount of time to make decisions on how to react to the notices”.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks with French troops during a visit to Estonian Defence Forces 1st Infantry Brigade and NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group located in Tapa, Estonia, 06 September 2017. EPA/Valda Kalnina

NATO’s Stoltenberg said there had been a 60 percent increase in the number of cyber-attacks against the alliance’s networks last year. Stoltenberg also revealed that NATO and EU staff worked together to thwart “two major or big cyber attacks” this year.

– North Korea actions require ‘united global response’

EU officials also responded to North Korea‘s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Federica Mogherini said she proposed to the defense ministers “new autonomous European Union sanctions”.

While offering more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea, she urged avoiding a “spiral of military confrontation that could be extremely dangerous not only for the region but for the entire world”.

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