NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Jamie Shea said he believes cybercrime siphons as much as one trillion dollars per year from the legitimate world economy.
The comments were made during at a joint press conference with George Maior, head of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).
"We have almost every week an incident that reminds us that cyber security is related to almost every aspect of our life. One trillion dollars disappear annually from the global economy because of cybercrime. Industrial secrets, copyright, intellectual property, state secrets become increasingly difficult to protect. Economies are running on these complex systems, which can be easily destroyed," Shea said.
Shea also extended praise for Romania's system of public and private sector coordination in regards to cyber security. Romania has developed a reputation for being an international hot spot for cybercrime activities.
"I am very impressed with the things you [Maior] mentioned today, the way your government departments cooperate - at both formal and informal level - on these subjects... Your national telecommunications system secures the safety of intergovernmental communication. You have an excellent system in place that is capable of monitoring the Internet and detect threats in before... I really believe that you are a model in this regard," Shea said.
Maior responded that the key to better cybersecurity is in further developing international cooperation as the rate of serious intrusion events escalate.
"We are aware that complex challenges await us originating in the cyber space and the talks today confirmed once again the need to cooperate and coordinate the efforts within the NATO and in Romania, implicitly. Even if the cyber threat is not so conspicuous in Romania for you, at the level of the intelligence service we have perceived a higher rate of these episodes over the past few months, starting from cyber attack on some databases to attempts to collect data in the electronic space, which we evaluated and countered and which are proof of a higher rate of occurrence in the near future," Maior said.
The press conference comes just a few weeks after NATO announced it is in the process of drafting an international law manual which will address concerns surrounding the prospect of cyber warfare, and how member states can best cooperate to mitigate mounting threats to network security.
Member nations are looking to combine efforts to increase information sharing and cyber situational awareness to combat the potential threats posed by state-sponsored cyber attacks, and the drafting of the international law manual looks to further this effort.
"We must be ready for this new threat and we are talking here about a more specific training since it means to recruit special experts within the intelligence service and the other institutions, it means an institutional cooperation and, of course, resources allocated to this new field that must be properly managed," Maior said.