President: We need to boost cybersecurity capabilities

President Kersti Kaljulaid speaking to the press following Monday's National Defence Council meeting.
President Kersti Kaljulaid speaking to the press following Monday's National Defence Council meeting. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia

President Kersti Kaljulaid held a meeting with the National Defence Council on Monday, to discuss the future of the e-state. One significant conclusion arose, namely that the state needs to actively seek opportunities to increase cyber security and cryptography capabilities.

The council also reviewed the situation since the 2017 ID card crisis, which saw a security risk affecting as many as 800,000 Estonian ID cards late on that year. The solution at the time was for users to update their own security certificates, either remotely or at Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) stations. The problem had affected cards issued between October 2014 and October 2017.

President Kaljulaid at the time said that Estonian agencies had done a "B+" job in dealing with the crisis, which has been discussed at two previous National Security Councils since then.

Other topics at Monday's meeting included identifying the needs of sustainable e-government funding, and the development of key competencies, according to the president's office.

"The rapid development of technology also causes us to struggle," President Kaljulaid said after Monday's meeting.

"Our e-government works; it is still a world-leader, but we must constantly maintain the position as best in the field and make relevant decisions. In no other country is e-government a vital service, but since the Estonian people no longer accept paperwork, we have no alternative," she continued.

"For this reason, we need to think, for example, of further development of cryptography know-how and skills in Estonia. Additionally, upgrading information security and cybersecurity capabilities is key. Without this, the e-government can not be sustainable," she added.

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Information Technology also needs to come up with proposals for strengthening cybersecurity by year end, the meeting also concluded.

The current IT minister is Kert Kingo (EKRE).

Defence council members were also given an overview of e-government budgetary needs of the coming years, both to cover current expenses and new investments.

The National Defense Council (Riigikaitse Nõukogu) is an advisory body to the President, discussing issues and presenting opinions relevant to national defense.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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