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NATO official calls for more partnership with Big Tech in Ukraine war

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NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges David van Weel said that NATO should cooperate with technology companies because of the unique work they have been doing in Ukraine.

“The work that companies like Microsoft and Google have been doing in Ukraine is really unique,” he said, according to The Record.

Google and Microsoft’s cloud services have been used to host the Ukrainian government’s IT infrastructure. They have also been involved in threat intelligence together with other cybersecurity companies to identify anti-Ukraine campaigns.

“When the war broke out with a large cyber component in it, that support from the private sector was crucial in keeping defenses up,” van Weel told The Record at the Munich Security Conference.

“We all have to realize that a large part of the infrastructure that we’re talking about is in private hands,” and that tech companies have some capabilities that nation-states can’t match.

“We need to think about how we get a more structural cooperation with these vital companies for cybersecurity,” van Weel said.

“It’s not like deals are being made here, or that communiques are being negotiated here. But the fact that all these important players are here, provides for an excellent opportunity to catch up and get up to speed on what’s happening in the world,” he added.

Van Weel said that innovation is making a difference in the war in Ukraine.

“Although it looks like a very conventional conflict, including trenches like in World War One — artillery fire, the use of tanks, aircraft, you name it — there is a large innovative angle to this war. And fortunately, it’s mostly coming out on the Ukrainian side,” he said.
He gave an example of Ukraine using natural language processing tools to automatically translate intercepted Russian communication and analyzing these conversations for intelligence purposes.

“By doing that in an automated way, you’re able to filter out information that is of interest, from a defensive point of view,” he explained.

He added that “in this day and age” the trick is not gathering information, it is “filtering the information that is in abundance, and then validating within that large stack of information, the intelligence that you need. I think that’s what this war is now showing, that there’s so much information that the trick is — partly automated, partly human — how to make sense of that and make it useful.”

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