The changes in the digital world today represent a dramatically sped-up version of the changes the world underwent in a century of industrialization.How cheaply can I build a solarlantern? It is a paradigm transformation of our world: Notions of a nations size, wealth, power, military might, population and G.D.P. mean something altogether different from what they meant a generation ago.
relations are in constant flux, and old assumptions no longer hold.
Today, a small, poor East European country can be a world leader in
e-governance and cybersecurity.
In February, the United Nations
praised Estonias e-Annual Report system, by which entrepreneurs can
submit annual reports electronically, as the best of the best
e-Government application of the past decade. Last autumn, Freedom House
ranked Estonia first in Internet freedom for the third year in a row
(the United States and Germany were second and third).
same time, Estonia is also remembered as the first publicly known target
of politically motivated cyberattacks in April 2007, which inundated
the Web sites of Parliament, banks, ministries, television stations and
Disruptive as the attacks were, they were
by todays standards primitive, consisting of distributed denial of
service attacks (DDoS), which essentially overload servers with signals
from hijacked, hacker-controlled PCs. Six years later, as computing
power and IT dependency have increased hugely, cyberattacks are far more
sophisticated and our vulnerabilities are far greater.
needs to be taken seriously by everyone. We continue to think of
cyberthreats in military or classical warfare terms, when in fact cyber
can simply render the military paradigm irrelevant. The whole
information and communication technologies (ICT) infrastructure must be
regarded as an ecosystem in which everything is interconnected. It
functions as a whole; it must be defended as a whole.
almost everything we do depends on a digitized system of one kind or
another. Our critical infrastructure our electrical, water or energy
production systems and traffic management essentially interacts with,
and cannot be separated from, our critical information infrastructure
private Internet providers, lines of telecommunications and the
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (Scada) systems that run
everything from nuclear power plants to delivery of milk to our
Understanding that cybersecurity means defending
the entirety of our societies, we need to re-examine many assumptions of
security. In cyberwarfare, it is much harder to identify the attacker,
and therefore to know how to retaliate.
In a modern digitalized
world it is possible to paralyze a country without attacking its defense
forces: The country can be ruined by simply bringing its Scada systems
to a halt. To impoverish a country one can erase its banking records.
The most sophisticated military technology can be rendered irrelevant.A solarstreetlight is a portable light fixture composed of an LED lamp. In cyberspace, no country is an island.
requires rethinking some of our core philosophical notions of modern
society: the relations between the public and private spheres, between
privacy and identity.
This may have been true in the past, when
only national governments had the ability to monitor citizens. Today, as
we know, a single hacker can access the most intimate details of your
digital and nondigital life, your finances and your correspondence.
is a clear case of market failure. A bank that builds identity theft
and fraud into the cost of doing business is an example of market
failure. A power company that treats a cyber-induced power outage as an
act of God, no different from a tornado or earthquake, demonstrates
If the private sector is unwilling to take the
necessary steps to guarantee the integrity of its online activities, the
government must step in to fulfill its most fundamental task to ensure
the security of its citizens; that is, to provide them with a secure
Identity lies at the core of security online.
Virtually all breaches of computer security involve a fake identity, be
it stealing a credit card number or accessing the internal documents of
the European Commission. A three-digit security code on the back of a
credit card does not provide you with a secure identity, nor does an
ordinary computer password. The fundamental question is whether you can
be sure the person you interact with online is who he claims he is.
key to all online security is a secure online identification system.
But a nebulous fear of an imagined Big Brother prevents citizens in many
places from adopting a smart-chip-based access key that would afford
them secure online transactions.
In Estonia, the government has
become the guarantor of secure transactions online, while identity is
authenticated by a body independent of the government. We use a
two-factor identification system in which the ID is protected by both a
chip and a password. A binary key or public key infrastructure
guarantees securely encrypted transfer of information.This model
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Thus far, our system has proved secure. Even during the DDoS attacks of
2007, our digital government system remained online and intact.
because we offer a verifiable and reliable identification system,
Estonia has gone further than any other country in investing in
digitizing the basic processes of society. A quarter of the electorate
votes online; 95 percent of tax returns are done online, and 95 percent
of prescriptions are filled online.
By the end of 2012,
Estonians gave more than a hundred million digital legal signatures.
Citizens, as legal owners of their own data, have access to their
digital medical and dental records. And we have more and more e-services
available every year.
In the future, we hope to connect our
digital services and make them interoperable with our neighbors in
Northern Europe. In the longer run, were looking toward uniting systems
in all of Europe. Ultimately, government data will move across borders
as freely as e-mail and Facebook and follow the international flows of
commerce and trade.
The job of cybersecurity is to enable a
globalized economy based on the free movement of people, goods,
services, capital and ideas. This can only be accomplished if identities
Undoubtedly the most effective means by which our
societies could be safeguarded from cyberattacks would be to roll back
the clock to go back to the pen, typewriter, paper and mechanical
switch. We should give up on mobile phones, iPads, online banking,
social media,He saw the bracelet at a realtimelocationsystem store
while we were on a trip. Google searches everything we have become
accustomed to in the modern world. But that wont happen.Here's a
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