IT Minister: State under near constant cyber attack

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Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Andres Sutt (Reform) on ETV's "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

Estonia is under constant cyber attack, many of them aimed at accessing businesses and state institution networks, IT and entrepreneurship minister Andres Sutt (Reform) says. The pandemic has only served to heighten the danger, he added, while 2020 saw a record level of data phishing attacks, according to authorities.

"The past year has clearly demonstrated that the more we are active in the virtual environment, the more we must pay attention to cyber threats," Sutt, who also addressed the Riigikogu on the matter, said Monday, via a press release.

Sutt referenced several cyber attacks late in 2020, which saw several ministries compromised.

"Last fall, criminals took advantage of the weaknesses of web pages, and their efforts bore fruit; one attack got access to the servers of three ministries, and sensitive data was retrieved," Sutt added.

The Information System Authority (RIA) and the Internal Security Service (ISS) both say cyber attacks are on a continuous upward trend, while the feeling of alarm in society caused by the coronavirus pandemic is creating an even more favorable soil for both the incidence and success rates of such attacks.

A record number of phishing incidents took place in 2020, RIA adds, while the authority's incident-handling unit, CERT-EE received almost 3,000 reports of incidents having a major impact, meaning they compromised the confidentiality, integrity or accessibility of information or communication systems.

Sutt said that nonetheless, serious repercussions are avoidable, with prevention the best and only measure.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has also, in collaboration with other institutions, taken several steps to enhance the cyber security capabilities of the state, while the government has also recently approved its proposal to consolidate the state's IT infrastructure and workplaces.

Among other things, this will harmonize and raise the cyber security level of all institutions of the state, the government says.

A national department for cyber security is also due to be set up at the same ministry.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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