May 28, 2015: Strategy Page
NATO member Romania has been put in charge of a NATO effort to improve Ukrainian Cyber War defenses. This is one of five areas NATO recently agreed to concentrate on in an effort to improve Ukrainian ability to defend itself against Russian aggression.
When Romania joined NATO in 2004 Eastern Europe was considered Ground Zero for criminal hacking gangs. There are still a lot of black hat (criminal) hackers around but Romania has made a remarkable turnaround. Romania is now the home of many legitimate Internet security firms and Romanian programmers and engineers are frequently encountered at major software firms like Microsoft. Some twenty percent of Interpols Cyber War experts are from Romania. There are still a lot of black hats active in Romania but the local police have their own growing force of skilled hackers to make Romania a more inhospitable place for black hats. Some Internet security companies actively try to get black hats to come over to the white hat side of the business.
Taking on the Ukrainian Cyber War defense assignment is a big opportunity for Romania because if they are successful they will have a high-visibility success for their software industry and an edge in getting contracts from other countries and large corporations to come in and upgrade defenses against hackers and Cyber War attack. Many of these attacks come from black hats in Russia and China.
In 2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO, putting parts of the former Soviet Union (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) within NATO and on Russia’s border. Many Russians do not like this, for Russian policy since 1945 has been to establish a "buffer" of subservient countries between Russian territory and Germany and the rest of Western Europe. This attitude is obsolete in a practical sense, but old habits die hard. The Russian government said it was willing to work with NATO in areas of mutual benefit but that did not work out. Now there is a state of undeclared war between Russia and NATO and the Internet is one of the more active battlefields.