With tensions in the East getting worse daily, one would think the inevitable cause of a massive war would be by a conflict originating there.

But it was just revealed that one unlikely source could prove to trigger World War III as well — and it is a little too close to home.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization just revealed that if threatened electronically, the group of countries would retaliate as one militant group.

A persistent and somewhat devastating cyber attack on NATO could yield what is known as an Article 5 retaliation.

Article 5 refers to NATO’s collective defense measure, and could cause the alliance to go to war in defense of a member state.

The Daily Caller reports:

“Although many of the cyber attacks that we see fall below a level in their seriousness that could trigger NATO’s Article 5, it is plausible that a cyberspace event of great magnitude could take place that might lead to the triggering of Article 5 in special circumstances,” said Catherine Lotrionte, director of Georgetown University’s Cyber Project.

The attack would have to be much more dangerous than propaganda or social media activities, she added, but invoking Article 5 is still a “real possibility.”

The creation of Article 5 came to be when Estonia fell victim to one of the most devastating cyber attacks in modern day history.

Their banks, infrastructures, and military computers were affected, and since Estonian officials blamed Russia for the attack, the two countries had it out.

As a result, NATO created a new manual on international laws that applied to cyber warfare, as well as modern warfare.

The Daily Caller reports:

NATO’s response today would be much more offensive, according to Brig. Gen. Christos Athanasiadis, the assistant chief of staff cyber at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe. He acknowledged that Article 5 could be invoked in the event of a cyber warfare against a member state.

“We would have rules of engagement. There would be a strong cyber or conventional response if what happened to Estonia were to take place now,” he said.  “We want to develop a strong early-warning capability. We must develop capacities that also serve as a deterrent to aggressors out there.”

Athanasiadis’ comments come at a time when policymakers in the West are attempting to both secure themselves in the cyber domain and update existing policies to address it. Russian cyber attacks have been a chief concern in recent months, specifically regarding potential meddling in the U.S. presidential election last year. That said, China, Iran and several non-state actors have also posed a cyber threat to NATO members in recent years.

In this modern age, cyber attacks are incredibly common, and need to be defended against as well.

If NATO fell victim to an electronic terrorist threat, who knows what the inevitable conflict would bring?

One thing is certain, however, NATO would strike back, and a massive war may ensue.

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