The North Atlantic Alliance can only use cyber capabilities in its operations and missions, a NATO official told TASS, commenting on US media reports about a cyber attack US Cyber Command had allegedly carried out against the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency on November 6, 2018.
"NATO’s mandate is defensive, and we act in line with international law. We have policies that allow the Alliance to draw on Allies’ national cyber capabilities, but only in its operations and missions, in line with its defensive mandate and subject to political control," the official said, adding that questions on national activities should be forwarded to the relevant national authorities.
A number of US media outlets, including the Washington Post and NBC, earlier reported that US President Donald Trump had signed off on a cyber attack against Russia’s Internet Research Agency on the day of the 2018 midterm election. "The action by US Cyber Command against the Internet Research Agency… marks the most aggressive known move to date by the Trump administration to combat Russian election interference," NBC said.
NBC elaborated, citing sources, that "US Cyber Command, working with intelligence gathered by the National Security Agency, shut down internet access at the facility in the hours before the 2018 midterms and for a few days afterward, the sources said."
"The operation marked the first muscle-flexing by US Cyber Command, with intelligence from the National Security Agency, under new authorities it was granted by President Trump and Congress last year to bolster offensive capabilities. The president approved of the general operation to prevent Russian interference in the midterms," the Washington Post said, citing officials.
The White House did not provide official comments on those media reports, while US Cyber Command declined to talk about cyber operations.