Ukraine signs agreement to join NATO cyber defense center
IMAGE: NATO CCDCOE
Daryna Antoniuk January 20, 2023

Ukraine signs agreement to join NATO cyber defense center

Daryna Antoniuk

January 20, 2023

Ukraine signs agreement to join NATO cyber defense center

Ukraine has taken another step to deepen its cooperation with NATO in the cybersecurity field as its war with Russia — both kinetic and digital — approaches the one-year mark.

On Thursday, Ukraine signed an agreement to join the Estonia-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE). Before it is official, all of CCDCOE’s members will have to sign this agreement.

CCDCOE conducts research on cyber policy, coordinates education and training in cyber defense for all NATO bodies, and organizes the world’s largest international cyber defense exercise, called Locked Shields.

Such cooperation will help Ukraine and NATO to more effectively counter common cyber threats, including from Russia, according to a statement by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC).

For example, Ukraine and its NATO allies will be able to exchange information on how to detect cyber threats, how to respond to cyberattacks and conduct defense and deterrence operations in cyberspace, said Nataliya Tkachuk, the head of information security and cybersecurity at NSDC.

Both sides stand to benefit from this partnership. Ukraine will get access to NATO’s cutting-edge technology and research, while CCDCOE members will learn more from Ukraine about how to defend against cyberattacks during wartime.

“Ukraine’s experience is unique,” Tkachuk told The Record. “And we are ready to share it with our allies — from the public-private partnership and effective involvement of cyber volunteers to methods of detecting and neutralizing cyberattacks from Russia.”

The Centre also analyzes the legal aspects of cyber defense — for example, its Tallinn Manual interprets how international humanitarian law is applied to cyber warfare — and it’s important that Ukraine become part of this discussion, according to Tkachuk. 

Ukraine has been trying to become a member of the CCDCOE since 2021, but only made some progress after Russia’s full-scale invasion. Last March, Ukraine was granted the formal role of “contributing participant.”

NATO’s cyber hub includes 29 sponsoring states and nine contributing participants, including Ukraine. Only NATO members can vote on CCDCOE decisions.

According to Tkachuk, membership within the cyber body is an important step on Ukraine’s path to NATO.

Ukraine has been actively cooperating with NATO’s cyber center throughout the year,  according to Yurii Shchyhol, head of Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection.

The organization’s top officials even visited Ukraine in November to discuss how the country counters Russia’s cyber threats. “I do hope that our cooperation will become tighter this year,” Shchyhol said in a statement.

Daryna Antoniuk is a freelance reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.