In Estonia, cybersecurity means fully protecting the digital society and the way of life as a whole. Many visiting delegations frequently question whether attacks on public sector digital services happen often. In fact, the answer is clear – attacks happen daily and everywhere. Last year, the number of attacks to the systems in Estonia rose to 17 440. However, the number of critical incidents has decreased 37% comparing to the previous two years. The main purpose of the cyber defence policy is to help ensure people’s trust in the information society and avoid the loss of data.
How to overcome cyber-attacks?
In many cases, a vital service might be interrupted, or it might be down for certain time. How can we avoid such incidents? There are large number of methods involved. For instance, Estonia has opened CR14 Cyber Security Exercises and Training Centre under the Ministry of Defence. It is crystal clear that protecting a digital state requires also Cyber Forces. Cybersecurity should be included in the comprehensive approach to national defence. Even more, it is essential to organise national and international crisis exercises with external partner institutions, and coordinate a plan by advising companies and officials, who are involved in providing essential services. Such exercises are under the competence of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior. However, improvement needs to be continuous and more focus should be on communication, raising awareness, finding new resources and upgrading old platforms.
Strategic approach to cybersecurity
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has also created an extensive policy in the field of cyber security. The aim of the cybersecurity strategy for 2019-2022, which is the third national cybersecurity strategy document, is to ensure conditions for the secure use of opportunities offered by ICTs. As stated in the introduction of the strategy,“cybersecurity is universally accepted as an integral part of the functioning of the state, the economy, internal and external security”.
How Estonia is leading the way
The Estonian Minister of Defence, Jüri Luik, has said that one of the core tasks for NATO these days is to fight the cyber-attacks. Estonia is clearly one of the cybersecurity hotshots today and will continue to contribute in this field. As Estonia is also holding the UN Security Council non-permanent member position for the years 2020-2022, one major task will be promoting cyber deterrence and sharing the lessons we have learned. Our experts will be sharing Estonian know-how and advising the other member states how to cope in case of incidents.
Cyber threats no longer know national borders; attacks can have a real global reach. Therefore, it has become crucial to enhance cross-border cooperation and consistently work on a better and safer digital society.