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RIA: Russia tensions have not increased cyberattacks on Estonia

Information System Authority (RIA) logo.
Information System Authority (RIA) logo. Source: Nelli Pello/RIA

Although cyberattacks have been carried out against Ukraine in recent weeks amid rising tensions with Russia, the number of attacks against Estonia has not significantly increased, the State Information System Authority (RIA) said.

Tõnu Tammer, head of the RIA Cyber Incident Handling Department, told ERR on Thursday that criminals exploit security vulnerabilities. Outdated software and equipment and poorly configured services are the main ways they gain access to IT systems.

To preempt any attacks on Estonian infrastructure, last week, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and RIA discussed the issue with state agencies and companies providing vital and important services and potential impacts. 

"We conducted a threat assessment for Estonian companies and institutions to prevent access to their systems," Tammer said.

Tõnu Tammer Source: ERR

RIA monitors the "Estonian cyber landscape around the clock" and it has been normal in recent months.

"This means that we are informed about various cyber incidents, attacks spreading malware, phishing scams but all to the extent that we are accustomed to," he said.

He said there were 26 DDoS blocking attacks against Estonian services and websites between Monday and Wednesday. Last week, there were 78. "Most of the attacks have no or very little impact," Tammer said.

Data from RIA shows 205 cyber incidents were registered in January, 343 in December, 179 in November and 202 in October. The largest number of reports were made about fishing scams.

Andres Sutt Source: SiiM Lõvi /ERR

Several attacks were made against schools but due to their timing, RIA suspects students from the same schools were most likely behind them. There were also three attacks against companies.

Minister of Enterprise and Information Technology Andres Sutt (Reform) has said the threat of military escalation in Ukraine has "significantly worsened" the cyber security situation in the region.

Although attacks with the same signature have not so far been seen in Estonia, preparation must be taken for a situation where Estonian information systems and services are also attacked.

Cyberattacks were carried out against Ukrainian state agencies in the middle of January, it assumed the attackers were Russian as the country is massing troops on Ukraine's borders.

At the time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said: "It's hard to say who's behind it. We can blame anyone because we have no evidence, but we can imagine [who staged the attack]."

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Editor: Helen Wright

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