Blazing a trail to cybersecurity
In the final days of April, Estonia fell victim to large-scale, centrally coordinated cyberattacks. The target chosen for the attacks was no less and no more than the entire electronic infrastructure of the state.
Estonia’s electronic defence systems did and are doing an effective job at defending and repelling the attacks. None of the systems with key national importance (banks, state databases, state communications systems) was irreparably damaged. But since most public, government and business services in Estonia are electronic (97% of banking operations are conducted over the Internet in Estonia, and schools, defence, science, research and health care institutions and energy systems are also Internet-based, along with the government’s administrative activity and external relations etc), the attacks directly or indirectly affected the security of each and every inhabitant, company, and the existence of Estonia as a modern and open 21st century country. There is reason enough to conclude that the cyberattacks, which began concurrently with Soviet-minded mobs rampaging through Tallinn at the end of April, is no mere coincidence but rather systematic, coordinated hostile activity.
The cyberattacks should be seen as an extremely great clear and present danger to democracies and peoples. Unfortunately cyber-war is no longer a topic of the distant future or an interesting theoretical problem. Democracies and societies that are developing openly are in a paradoxical situation, as both the European Union and NATO lack a cyber-defence policy and lack the legal framework – international conventions and agreements – that would stipulate what could be done in actuality for practical defensive or preventive cooperation. We lack laws for prosecuting transgressors.
We must join forces in the European Union and other international organizations, including in the UN Security Council, to develop, as soon as possible, a global defensive and information security system for electronic infrastructure. This must become a foreign relations priority for the Riigikogu.