The secret of a well-functioning digital society lies in trust, transparency and the government’s ability to stick to these fundamental attributes as a priority.
In May 2020, Estonia held the presidency of the UN Security Council. Who would have thought in the beginning of the year that the entire world would be on lockdown during the Estonian presidency? But if there is one thing you will have noticed about Estonia by now, it is this: we thrive in challenging times – and in this crisis, like in previous ones, digital solutions helped us make the most of our month in the spotlight.
The world has proven to be an incredibly vulnerable ecosystem. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the global peace and security environment on several levels. Even the UN Security Council itself is working remotely for the first time, with video meetings and the whole shebang! In line with these developments, Estonia decided to raise cyber security as an important threat vector. Indeed, this was the first time in history that cyber security was raised as an issue in the UN Security Council on March 5th. At a time when both the frequency and fallout of cyberattacks have drastically increased, Estonia put forward the suggestion to create a common framework and law enforcement capacity to tackle these issues.
On May 22nd, Estonia organised an informal video-conference together with Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and Kenya where United Nations member states could contribute to the cyber security debate. In total, around 60 countries and organisations participated in the event. Having attended the conference, I can sincerely say that it was fantastic to listen to so many experts from across the world and get the strong and clear signal: cyber security needs more attention and solid actions.
I was especially inspired by the speech of Ambassador James Roscoe, the United Kingdom’s Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN as he stated:
“But no country can do this alone. There is a vast community of supporting states. From regional organisations to the principle-driven capacity-building of the Global Forum for Cyber Expertise (GFCE.) We all have a role to play in the implementation of our framework, and all states and stakeholders must draw on this community to take their positive steps. It is only through our shared commitment to do so that we can effectively support the maintenance of international peace and security in cyberspace.”
Cyberattacks can have a global reach and this, by default, necessitates a global approach. But this is only possible when we have a common understanding of these matters.
This crisis has clearly demonstrated how important it is to build a transparent and reliable digital infrastructure. Furthermore, it is crystal clear that we must work together for a more stable and secure cyberspace. And let’s be clear: hospitals and other areas with critical infrastructure also experience a significant increase as to the number of attacks – we need to start investigating and reacting to such attacks as we do to “traditional” crimes. For quite some time now, hackers have been targeting hospitals to blackmail personnel by withholding critical information. We can no longer accept these heinous attacks that ultimately put into question the stability of our cyberspace.
The world is at a crossroads. For many good reasons, we have become quite reliant on digital technologies and infrastructure over time. It is about time that international cyber norms be established and agreed upon, and that international cyber law catches up with a world that evolves at a breakneck pace. I am happy that Estonia does its part to support these developments and continues to share its extensive experience in shaping norms in cyber policies on international level. At the end of the day, each of us can leave a mark, but together we can make a real difference.
Today, e-governance and e-services have become a necessity in every country. e-Estonia Briefing Centre – the gateway to Estonian expertise in e-governance, invites you to connect with the Estonian IT companies directly responsible for the successful functioning of the e-state even during a pandemic. Get in touch with us to set up your custom virtual programme with the best partners you could get:
Digital Transformation Adviser at the e-Estonia Briefing Centre