Estonia Asks Nato To Nuke Cyber Attackers
05-16-2007, 09:17 AM
Estonia Asks Nato To Nuke Cyber Attackers
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By Nick Farrell: Wednesday 16 May 2007, 07:31
A COYBTRY called Estonia is urging the EU and NATO to strike against cyber-attacks.
The country has been suffering a large number of cyber-attacks after it was involved in a bitter row with Russia over a Soviet war memorial.
Estonian Defence Minister Jaak Aaviksoo told AFP that both the EU and NATO clearly need to take a much stronger approach and cooperate closely to develop practical ways of combatting cyber-attacks.
He said that if you take into account the scale of damage and the way cyber-attacks are organised, you can compare them to terrorist activities.
Estonian officials have have claimed that some of the cyber attacks, which forced the authorities in the Baltic state to temporarily shut down websites, came from Russian government computers, including some from the office of President Vladimir Putin.
Aaviksoo said that the EU and NATO need to work out a common legal basis to deal with cyber attacks.
Estonia urges firm EU, NATO response to new form of warfare: cyber-attacks
May 16, 2007 - 12:05PM
Estonia has urged its allies in the European Union and NATO to take firm action against a new mode of warfare that has been unleashed on the Baltic state in a bitter row with Russia over a Soviet war memorial: cyber-attacks.
"Taking into account what has been going on in Estonian cyber-space, both the EU and NATO clearly need to take a much stronger approach and cooperate closely to develop practical ways of combatting cyber-attacks," Estonian Defence Minister Jaak Aaviksoo told AFP Tuesday.
"Considering the scale of damage and the way these cyber-attacks have been organised, we can compare them to terrorist activities," Aaviksoo said a day after raising the new mode of warfare at talks with his fellow EU defence ministers in Brussels.
Estonian institutional websites have been under regular cyber-attack since the end of last month, when a row blew up with Russia over the removal from central Tallinn of a memorial to Soviet Red Army soldiers.
Officials in Estonia, including Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, have claimed that some of the cyber-attacks, which forced the authorities in the Baltic state to temporarily shut down websites, came from Russian government computers, including in the office of President Vladimir Putin.
"The cyber-attacks against government websites have come in waves: they start and end, and then start again after a few days' break," said Hillar Aarelaid, head of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which was set up last year to tackle "security incidents" in Estonia's .ee Internet domain.
"Last Friday, we hoped it was all over but the new massive attack against one of the biggest banks on Tuesday showed we were too optimistic.
"Cyber-attacks also have been launched against banks, newspapers, schools and many other institutions," Aarelaid told AFP.
Estonia's second-biggest bank, Swedish-owned SEB Eesti Uhispank, was forced Tuesday to block access from abroad to its online banking service after it came under "massive cyber-attack", a spokesman for the bank, Silver Vohu, said.
Hansapank, the biggest bank in Estonia, came under attack last week.
The first wave of cyber-attacks against official websites fizzled out after Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet publicly declared that many of the attacks had originated from Russian government computers.
The new wave of attacks was coming from "around the world," Aarelaid said.
"Even computers as far away as Vietnam have been involved in cyber-attacks against Estonia. The attackers try to restrict access to Estonian websites and in some cases have tried to change the information on the website they have attacked," Aarelaid said.
The attacks might originate in computers around the world, but they still have Russian roots, he said.
"The net has been full of Russian language instructions on how to inflict damage on Estonian cyber-space," Aarelaid said.
Cyber-attacks are such a new phenomenon that there are no universal rules available on how to strike back at them.
"We haven't yet defined what can be considered to be a cyber-attack, or what are the rights of member states and the obligations of EU and NATO in the event such attacks are launched," Aaviksoo said.
"The EU and NATO need to work out a common legal basis to deal with cyber attacks. For example, we have to agree on how to tackle different levels of criminal cyber-activities, depending on whether what we are dealing with is vandalism, cyber-terror or cyber-war," he said.
Aarelaid agreed: "The unprecedented cyber-attacks against Estonia have clearly indicated we need much stronger regulations in this area.
"You could compare this with what our great-grandparents faced when cars first started to appear on the streets. Eventually, there were so many of them that new, strict rules needed to be implemented."
The cyber-attacks against Estonia were launched after the authorities here moved a monument to Soviet soldiers who fought fascism in World War II, from the city block where it stood in central Tallinn to a military cemetery in a quiet neighbourhood of the capital.
Russians see the monument as a sacred memorial to the millions of Soviet soldiers who died in the war, while to Estonians it is a reminder of 50 years of Soviet occupation.
The removal of the monument drew the ire of Moscow and triggered riots in Tallinn by members of Estonia's ethnic Russian minority that makes up around one-quarter of the Baltic republic's population of 1.34 million.
It also set off the cyber-attacks, which have drawn condemnation from the European Union, individual EU member states, the United States and NATO.
NATO defence ministers will discuss cyber defence at a meeting in Brussels in June.
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