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If any NATO country knows about cyber attacks, it's Estonia. The country suffered a high profile series of attacks on institutions across the country in spring 2007. NATO Review asked Estonia's President what the country learned from this and why he feels the area deserves more attention.

Cyber attacks, NATO –

and Angry Birds

In April 2007, Estonia,

a country of just over a million people,

was hit by a major cyber attack.

Banks, broadcasters

and government organisations,

were just some of those,

whose systems were attacked.

Six years later,

we asked the country’s president

what it has learned about cyber

security and who is best to provide it.

Mister President, do you think

that in order to gain more prominence

something more serious,

such as taking control of plains

or bringing some deaths

about by cyber attacks,

will be needed

before this is taken seriously?

Well, if someone wipes out

the records of Wall Street

no one has to die directly as a result

of it, but that can be pretty bad.

And I would just suggest

any politician that says:

No one has been killed, fine, that’s

true and let’s hope it stays that way,

but your country’s banks have

just lost all of their financial data.

Cyber attacks have become

even more high profile recently

with the attack in South Korea.

Do you feel that NATO is in a position

to defend its own members.

If you completely paralyse the country

and then nothing is moving,

there is no phone service,

there is no food

coming to the supermarkets,

the hospitals are not working...

I mean, what good does an army do?

I mean, in fact the army

doesn’t know who to fight.

How much do you think

that the cyber community will

wait for institutional responses?

And how much

a grassroots response is more likely,

which you have evidence

of in Estonia with the defence team?

We had this idea: maybe people

might want to volunteer to do this?

And so we offered this programme

whereby people who work

in the private sector and IT

can volunteer their services

just like national or home guard does.

You know,

just a couple of hours a week,

a couple of weekends a month

or a weekend a month.

And as it turned out this has

been hugely popular because...

Well, I mean, if you’re

a computer geek somewhere,

you’re making a lot of money, but

what you’re doing is not necessarily...

You’re not serving the country.

We have this overwhelmingly

popular response.

People who want to donate their time.

And they do get a benefit

because they have to go through...

to obtain a security clearance.

So, if you’re in the private sector

and you’re sort of designing...

whatever, Angry Birds.

We have a lot of people who design

Angry Birds within Estonia.

You think: you can defend your

country and get a NATO clearance

because otherwise

we won’t let you do it.

Wow, I have

a NATO security clearance.

It works.

And with the end of

the Afghanistan operation next year,

do you feel this is an opportunity

to push these kind of security

threats more to the front?

I think the issues

that we faced in 2001 to 2002

have been superseded today.

Cyber defence was not at all an issue.

I mean, the world was

not wired enough in 2001, 2002

for say DDOS attacks

to really have a meaningful effect,

whereas today DDOS attacks

are regular occurrence.

And I do think this is

a mind-set issue. That will change

as we get more

and more people rising up

who have had experience with cyber.

Cyber attacks, NATO –

and Angry Birds

In April 2007, Estonia,

a country of just over a million people,

was hit by a major cyber attack.

Banks, broadcasters

and government organisations,

were just some of those,

whose systems were attacked.

Six years later,

we asked the country’s president

what it has learned about cyber

security and who is best to provide it.

Mister President, do you think

that in order to gain more prominence

something more serious,

such as taking control of plains

or bringing some deaths

about by cyber attacks,

will be needed

before this is taken seriously?

Well, if someone wipes out

the records of Wall Street

no one has to die directly as a result

of it, but that can be pretty bad.

And I would just suggest

any politician that says:

No one has been killed, fine, that’s

true and let’s hope it stays that way,

but your country’s banks have

just lost all of their financial data.

Cyber attacks have become

even more high profile recently

with the attack in South Korea.

Do you feel that NATO is in a position

to defend its own members.

If you completely paralyse the country

and then nothing is moving,

there is no phone service,

there is no food

coming to the supermarkets,

the hospitals are not working...

I mean, what good does an army do?

I mean, in fact the army

doesn’t know who to fight.

How much do you think

that the cyber community will

wait for institutional responses?

And how much

a grassroots response is more likely,

which you have evidence

of in Estonia with the defence team?

We had this idea: maybe people

might want to volunteer to do this?

And so we offered this programme

whereby people who work

in the private sector and IT

can volunteer their services

just like national or home guard does.

You know,

just a couple of hours a week,

a couple of weekends a month

or a weekend a month.

And as it turned out this has

been hugely popular because...

Well, I mean, if you’re

a computer geek somewhere,

you’re making a lot of money, but

what you’re doing is not necessarily...

You’re not serving the country.

We have this overwhelmingly

popular response.

People who want to donate their time.

And they do get a benefit

because they have to go through...

to obtain a security clearance.

So, if you’re in the private sector

and you’re sort of designing...

whatever, Angry Birds.

We have a lot of people who design

Angry Birds within Estonia.

You think: you can defend your

country and get a NATO clearance

because otherwise

we won’t let you do it.

Wow, I have

a NATO security clearance.

It works.

And with the end of

the Afghanistan operation next year,

do you feel this is an opportunity

to push these kind of security

threats more to the front?

I think the issues

that we faced in 2001 to 2002

have been superseded today.

Cyber defence was not at all an issue.

I mean, the world was

not wired enough in 2001, 2002

for say DDOS attacks

to really have a meaningful effect,

whereas today DDOS attacks

are regular occurrence.

And I do think this is

a mind-set issue. That will change

as we get more

and more people rising up

who have had experience with cyber.

ALINTILAR
Michael Glenn Mullen
Deniz Kuvvetleri Emekli Amiral
HABER BÜLTENİ
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