Laar ‘we must learn from Georgian experience’

The Baltic Times
Marge Tubalkain-Trell, TALLINN
August 21, 2008
Former Estonian prime minister Mart Laar called for increased digital security amid fears that Estonia could become an object of Russian aggression.

Citing the cyberattacks that rendered Georgian Web sites and other information channels useless at the onset of the Russian invasion, Laar said Estonia must learn from the Georgian experience to immediately create national structures for digital defense.

“Access to Georgian information channels was cut. In the first days of the war Russian information was exceptionally dominating, describing Georgia as an aggressor and Russia as a victim,” Laar said.

After the initial attack, Georgian Web sites were moved to other servers across the world. Estonia hosts the Web sites of the Georgian Foreign Ministry and one news portal.

“In an information war, the size of a country has a smaller role. More important are speed and ingenuity. Attention must be drawn to inform [people] living in Russian media space,” said Laar.

Ministry of Defense spokesman Aari Lemmik agreed that Estonia”s digital infrastructure is vulnerable. “In today”s information society, any country that uses information systems can be a victim of cyberattack. No doubt Estonia is a very enticing country as a target, because of people”s habit of using Webbased services,” Lemmik said.

He added that there is no impenetrable security or completely safe software, since cyberdefense is not a onetime measure but a continuous action between nations. While the attackers are not hampered by international borders, defense against them requires international cooperation, Lemmik said.

Estonia”s Cyber Strategy 2008-2013 is focused on making people aware of the Internet”s potential risks and of the security measures that are available. The current strategy for repulsing possible cyberattacks is to develop cooperation and information exchange. .

About 95 percent of cyber crimes are linked not with wars but with economic and other crimes. Estonia”s main partner in the field of cybersecurity is the EU.