President Karis: Estonia always needs cyber-smart people

President Alar Karis meeting some of the young competitors at the Cyber Battle competition in Tartu.
President Alar Karis meeting some of the young competitors at the Cyber Battle competition in Tartu. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia

Estonia has a strong need for a cyber-savvy populace, in all areas of life, President Alar Karis says.

"We also need cyber-aware doctors, teachers and lawyers – and even poets, why not?" the president said late last week.

"There is no alternative route towards a smart future society other than a diverse, modern and engaging education for our young people," the head of state continued, per a press release, adding that: "The more our lives are permeated by digital devices and e-services, the greater the interest becomes in using these maliciously."

This could take the form of mere fraud and crime, or data theft, or generally sowing internal confusion, he added, particularly in the light of the current, changed security situation.

President Karis made his remarks at a cyber security contest held in his native Tartu and aimed at young people.

Dubbed Cyber ​​Battle, the competition's main aim is to introduce young people to the cyber world, enabling them to acquire their first knowledge in the field via practical courses.

Addressing the assembled young people, who had gathered at the University of Tartu's sports hall for the event, which rehearsed cyber drills against an imagined, but realistic, foe, the president said: "The saying goes, 'train hard to fight easy'. Today's Cyber ​​Battle hacking competition was a rehearsal. But we all know that, sooner or later, there will be real battles." 

"These battles are not just fought between countries, we are all in the front line; all the time, at home, at school and at work.  For this reason, we have to be ready for and become cyber-savvy," President Karis addressed the young people who competed with the imaginary villains of the cyber world in the sports hall of the University of Tartu.

The president also expressed how impressed he was by the turnout for the event and thanked Cyber Battle's organizers and supporters.

He also noted that today's job market in particular, specialists with both a deep knowledge and skill-set in one particular area, and with good communication skills and broad general competencies – the so-called "T-type" – are highly sought-after.

Meanwhile and in the context of the Cyber Battle event, Marki Tihhonova-Kreek, CEO ofcyber security company CTF Tech, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "We are seeing that the number of cyber attacks in the context of the war has increased, and of course this creates an even more urgent problem, one where there is a great need for such young people, such citizens, who know how to protect their country and also their own cyberspace."

On the morning of August 26 this year, all the major commercial news channels in Estonia went offline, while another recent malicious cyber attack resulted in the Health Insurance Fund's (Haigekassa) basic services go down for around half an hour, on the afternoon of September 7.

Another attack in September saw a firm in South Estonia lose warehouse data and experience disruption in production.

More broadly, the State Information Systems Agency (RIA) registered 200 "impactful" incidents last month, AK reported.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, AK

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