BRUSSELS (AP) -- With cyberthreats escalating, the next meeting of NATO defense ministers will include a major focus on cybersecurity, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said.
Panetta said he called on NATO to address the issue, as the cyberthreat from other nations and hackers continues to grow.
"We are seeing continuing attacks in the cyber arena, on the private sector, on the public sector, in the defense arena," Panetta told reporters as the two-day NATO ministerial here wrapped up. "This is without question the battlefield of the future and a scenario that NATO needs to pay attention to."
His comments come in the wake of a new report by a private cybersecurity firm that concluded that a special unit of China's military is responsible for sustained cyberespionage against U.S. companies and government agencies. China has denied involvement in the attacks in which massive amounts of data and corporate trade secrets, likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars, were stolen.
U.S. government officials have said that nations around the world must work together in order to tackle the growing cyberthreats. To date there are no broadly accepted rules that describe what constitutes a cyberact of war or the parameters of the battlefield in cyberspace. Nations also have widely disparate laws governing Internet crime.