The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency signed industry partnership cyber information sharing agreements with both Cisco [CSCO] and Fortinet [FTNT], NATO said Monday.

The agreement with Cisco is set to facilitate rapid and early bilateral exchange of non-classified information concerning the nature, scope, prevention, and mitigation of cyber attacks. The information will be integrated into NCI Agency 24/7 detection and mitigation of cyber attacks, NATO said after the signing at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Calif.


This “will foster collaboration and timely sharing of information about cyber security industry trends to mutually enhance situational awareness and the protection of respective networks and systems,” the NCI Agency said.

NATO’s similar agreement with Fortinet is planned to boost two-way information sharing, focusing on cyber threat intelligence.

The NCI Agency expects several results of the Fortinet cooperation, including improved cyber defense in NATO’s supply chain; improved sharing of expertise, information, and experience of operating under the constant threat of cyber attack (e.g. malware information sharing); raised awareness and improved understanding of cyber risks; leveraged private sector developments for capability development; and generate efficient and adequate support in the case of cyber incidents.

“The cyber threats that we are seeing are very real and very serious. Partnership with the private sector is crucial in order for NATO to defend the networks upon which it relies to prepare for and respond to threats,” Koen Gijsbers, General Manager of the NCI Agency, said in the statement announcing the Cisco deal.

Lt Gen Mark Schissler, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee agreed, noting with 90 percent of computer networks residing in the private sector, “we must recognize from the start that open collaboration is the only road to success.”

A top Cisco official agreed on the importance of information sharing.

“NATO and Cisco have partnered in many ways, and we both agree that security is more than just building best-in-class products–it’s about how you think…Together, we will connect our unique global visibility with the unique attacks they experience, and change the game for our customers,” John N. Stewart, Chief Security and Trust Officer at Cisco, said in a statement.

“If more organizations proactively share actionable intelligence, together we can better combat advanced threats and counteract the latest risks to deliver security without compromise today and in the future,” Michael Xie, founder, president and Chief Technology Officer at Fortinet, added in a separate statement announcing the Fortinet agreement.

The agreements with both companies are the latest in a series of partnerships between the NCI Agency and industry organizations in the framework of the NATO Industry Cyber Partnership [RA1] (NICP). NICP was endorsed by the Heads of State and Government at the NATO Wales Summit in 2015 as a tool to reinforce network resiliency and help prevent, respond to, and recover from cyber attacks in a mutually beneficial setting.

The NCI Agency is responsible for operating and defending NATO’s networks.