Estonia’s war in cyberspace
May 29th, 2007

A timeline of ‘Attack on Estonia’ is set out in the New York Times story today titled ‘War Fears Turn Digital After Data Siege in Estonia.’ For Estonians, the attack has been a fundamental threat, and for the rest of us it may well be a wake-up call about the future – because: ‘After all, for people here the Internet is almost as vital as running water; it is used routinely to vote, file their taxes, and, with their cellphones, to shop or pay for parking.’ More from the Times report of the aftermath of the removal of a statue of a World War II-era Soviet soldier:

What followed was what some here describe as the first war in cyberspace, a monthlong campaign that has forced Estonian authorities to defend their pint-size Baltic nation from a data flood that they say was set off by orders from Russia or ethnic Russian sources in retaliation for the removal of the statue.

The Estonians assert that an Internet address involved in the attacks belonged to an official who works in the administration of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

The Russian government has denied any involvement in the attacks, which came close to shutting down the country’s digital infrastructure, clogging the Web sites of the president, the prime minister, Parliament and other government agencies, staggering Estonia’s biggest bank and overwhelming the sites of several daily newspapers.

‘It turned out to be a national security situation,’ Estonia’s defense minister, Jaak Aaviksoo, said in an interview. ‘It can effectively be compared to when your ports are shut to the sea.’

Computer security experts from NATO, the European Union, the United States and Israel have since converged on Tallinn to offer help and to learn what they can about cyberwar in the digital age.

‘This may well turn out to be a watershed in terms of widespread awareness of the vulnerability of modern society,’ said Linton Wells II, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration at the Pentagon. ‘It has gotten the attention of a lot of people.’


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