President Ilves Describes Cyber as Fifth Domain of Warfare

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves emphasized that cyberspace has become a domain of warfare, speaking today at the 8th International Conference on Cyber Conflict in Tallinn. Keynote speakers noted the importance of designating cyberspace as an operational domain for NATO. The conference formally opened today and continues Thursday and Friday.

“The NATO Warsaw Summit next month is likely to recognize that cyber has evolved into a domain of warfare next to air, land, sea, and space,” highlighted Sven Sakkov, director of the Tallinn-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, noting what quickly became the recurring theme of discussions.

“In the world of cyber, geography ceases to play a role, all distances are equal,” Ilves said. With cyber conflict seemingly inevitable, democratic countries need to cooperate, Ilves concluded. 

“We should be prepared for more and more allies to be targeted with greater intensity and frequently,” said  Czech Minister of Defence Martin Stropnicky. If cyber is to be designated a fifth domain at the Warsaw Summit, allies must take critical steps and develop appropriate defense capabilities, including increased defence budgets, Stropnicky noted.

Admiral Manfred Nielson, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, emphasized the need to guide attention to cyberspace as a separate domain besides land, sea, and air considering also people, processes, and technologies.

A unique panel of NATO cyber commanders brought together French Vice Admiral Arnaud Coustilliere, General James Hockenhull of the United Kingdom and General Hans Folmer of Dutch Defence Cyber Command. Prior to the conference’s start, the NATO CCDCOE hosted a forum of cyber commanders from 11 nations. “International cooperation can only be based on trust, particularly in an area as all-encompassing as cyber defence. Bringing people together is fundamental to building this trust, so this meeting is imperative in building future relationships that keep our cyberspace safe,” said Vice Adm. Coustilliere. Taking advantage of CyCon for such a side event will hopefully become a tradition, he added.

CyCon continues Thursday with keynotes by Thomas Rid, Martin C. Libicki, and Mikko Hypponen. Rid, a professor at King’s College London, will preview his book Rise of the Machines, a thought-provoking portrait of our technology-enraptured era. Libicki, a distinguished professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and author of three books, takes the stage to discuss the impacts of information technology on domestic and national security. Hypponen is chief research officer at F-Secure and delivered a widely viewed computer security talk on the internet.

Selected Cycon 2016 keynotes will be broadcast live at

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