In order to reduce cybersecurity risks and ensure the sustainability of the digital state, Estonia will focus on upgrading and ensuring the upkeep of the important information systems of the state next year, with an additional €14.4 million allocated for this purpose in the 2022 state budget.
This amount, which equates to about half of the additional funds found for 2022, will go towards the renewal and maintenance of outdated information systems and platforms of different areas of government, spokespersons for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said on Wednesday.
Minister of entrepreneurship and information technology Andres Sutt (Reform) said that a serious backlog has arisen in the digital state due to underfunding in recent years, which makes services vulnerable.
"Often, the focus is only on creating new IT solutions and information systems, with the development and maintenance of existing ones taking a back seat. You can buy a car, but it won't go very far without fuel and maintenance. The mounting technology backlog leaves the digital state vulnerable and open to cyber attacks. For example, the theft of document photos in July was made possible by outdated components in the state portal," the minister said.
Sutt noted that the problem of the backlog is mostly due to funding, as a large proportion of the costs of the digital state is financed with EU funds, which are not allowed to be used to maintain services.
"It is for this reason that we need to increase the basic funding for the digital state from the state budget, and I am glad that we received an additional €30 million for this in 2022. This is an important step towards a solution, but additional funding must be found on a permanent basis to ensure the sustainability of the digital state," he said.
In addition to the money channeled into eliminating the backlog, €2.6 million will be directed into information systems in the field of the environment, €1.9 million into the development of information systems and business applications of the Tax and Customs Board, an additional €800,000 will go to the population register and €1.1 million will be allocated to social security information systems.
Also the health sector, which has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, stands to receive extra money: the Ministry of Social Affairs will receive two million euros to maintain COVID-19 applications and analytical solutions, while the Health Information System and other digital services in the field of health will get an additional €1.8 million.
"My guideline to all institutions is that no new IT development can be made until cover for their maintenance costs has been found. This is the only responsible way to build the digital state in a sustainable manner," Sutt said.
In total, the government allocated an extra €30 million under the 2022 state budget to ensure the country's central cyber security capabilities, the sustainability of common solutions of the digital state, information security in individual areas of government, and the maintenance of important information systems.
Editor: Roberta Vaino