updated 3/18/2010 11:00:34 AM ET 2010-03-18T15:00:34

NATO must do more to coordinate the international community's response to the threat of cyber attacks, members of Britain's House of Lords said Thursday.

In a report, peers said they were shocked at the lack of cooperation between NATO and other blocs like the European Union.

Michael Jopling, a Lords member, says there "must be cooperation rather than duplication" of efforts by international bodies.

The report discloses that Britain carried out a major two-day exercise in November, simulating the impact of a cyber strike that crippled the country's telephone network.

Britain's domestic spy agency MI5 has warned of an increasing threat of cyber attack. It has warned both China and Russia are using new technology to spy on Britain.

Over the past decade, NATO has repeatedly emphasized the need to develop effective countermeasures for cyberattacks and other threats in cyberspace. The effort to develop a cyber-defense policy received a major impetus three years ago, when hackers unleashed a wave of attacks against NATO-member Estonia.

The barrage crippled dozens of government and corporate sites in what is one of Europe's most wired countries. It prompted NATO to enhance its cyber war capabilities and to establish the alliance's cyber defense research center — a think tank with facilities for training — in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, in 2008.

NATO has been reticent to discuss its actions in countering cyberattacks, but says attacks on national computer systems can come from hackers, criminals, terrorists and other states. In the Estonian case, an investigation found that a large percentage of computers engaged in the hacker attack were located in NATO member nations in Western Europe.

The issue of cyberattacks will figure prominently in NATO's comprehensive new Strategic Concept — effectively the alliance's mission statement — due to be adopted at a summit in November. A group of experts, led by former State Secretary Madeleine Albright, is working to update the old strategic concept, formulated in 1999.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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