Josh (Juku) Gold
Reede, 01 Juuni 2018 19:00
Estonian Life No. 22 2018
Opinion: In spring 2007, co-ordinated cyberattacks targeted Estonian sites. The attacks were emblematic of the future of war
Following a visit to Ottawa by Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Canada has announced closer digital co-operation with with our Baltic ally. This is a welcome move. Estonia is a world leader in digital public services — and cyber defence. It has to be.
Upon regaining its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia’s leaders needed to modernize the country’s economy and infrastructure. Estonia devoted its resources to new fields, particularly the internet. As a result, Estonia has long been one of the world’s most wired states, sometimes called “e-Estonia.” It is the birthplace of Skype, and Estonia’s national data exchange platform, X-Road, used blockchain technology before the word “blockchain” was even invented. These are huge wins for a small country. Sadly, Estonia was also the first victim of politically motivated cyberattacks directed against an entire state.
For three weeks in spring 2007, co-ordinated cyberattacks targeted Estonian government, banking, media and other sites, as well as specific routers and servers. The attacks, which occurred at a time of heightened political tension between Estonia and Russia, were emblematic of the future of war.
Thanks to a successful defence against these attacks and a general strategy of transparency, the 2007 cyberattacks brought international attention to both Estonia’s expertise in cybersecurity and the need for international co-operation in the field of cyber defence.
This is the context that led to 2008, when, in recognition of Estonia’s cyber defence leadership, six other nations joined Estonia in establishing the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn. The centre is essentially a military think-tank that leads the world in crafting cyber defence solutions through a multinational, interdisciplinary analysis of various cyber issues. Today, the CCDCOE counts 21 states, 18 NATO nations and three NATO-allied contributing participants. Many more are lined up to join, including NATO-allied states Japan and Australia. Canada is not among them.
Cyber defence has never been more relevant, and challenges are growing rapidly. Both NATO and Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) have warned of potential election meddling in 2019. Canada already loses millions, likely billions, of dollars to cybercrime and industrial espionage. Future attacks against critical infrastructure may pose an even greater cost.
Recognizing the danger, the Canadian government has taken steps to strengthen its cyber capabilities. The military created a new role of “cyber operators” — who will conduct more offensive cyber operations — and it is aggressively recruiting. The 2018 budget calls for the establishment of two new national cybersecurity centres, for the RCMP and CSE respectively. It also commits almost $508 million over five years to fund a new National Cyber Security Strategy — our current strategy dates from 2010, an eternity ago in cyber terms.
These steps will allow Canada to better protect our country and increase our co-operation with allies and partners. But they are not enough. Canada should take a leading role in promoting a cybersecurity agenda. A global environment of uncertainty toward cyber operations leaves Canada and the free democratic world vulnerable. In order to ensure that the emerging digital world order will be in line with our values, Canada must move to the forefront of the international cybersecurity community and join our allies at the CCDCOE.
Canada cannot afford to fall any further behind
This is the consensus view shared by Canadian military, diplomatic, and technical experts. Canadian government officials have made several visits to the centre, and in 2014, Canada donated $1 million to the CCDCOE. That money helped develop Locked Shields, the world’s largest and most complex cyber defence exercise, organized annually by the CCDCOE. Canada, as a non-member, does not participate.
Canada cannot afford to fall any further behind. Our allies need and want our participation. It’s time to join the CCDCOE.
Josh Gold is currently interning at the NATO CCDCOE. The opinions above are his own.
By Josh GoldSee e-posti aadress on spämmirobotite eest kaitstud. Selle nägemiseks peab su veebilehitsejas olema JavaSkript sisse lülitatud.