President Ilves: More reflection, please | Opinion

Protect yourself from online attacks that threaten your identity, your files, your system, and your financial well-being.


I decided at the start of my ten years as president that I will dedicate my June 23 or Victory Day speech to security and national defense. These have been the most pressing maters for our people throughout the 20th century.

And throughout history, threats the world and Estonia faced had always been kinetic – bullets, shells, cannons, bombs, tanks, artillery – at least until 2007. Force is mass times acceleration, if we recall our Newtonian physics. Things fly and destroy, while heavier things fly and destroy more. It has been the case since the early man discovered he can more easily destroy his fellow humans by using a weapon or a tool for slaughtering, as portrayed by Kubrick in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Our whole understanding of security changed in 2007 when cyberattacks perpetrated in Russia brought life to a halt in Estonia. It was something the world had never seen before, where one country shut down or disabled another without using kinetic force. Based on the words of German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz that war is the continuation of politics by other means, it was the first cyber war.

The world did not believe us at first. NATO did not take cyberattacks seriously. What is this about war? It is unheard-of and obviously a figment of imagination of the Russophobic Eastern Europeans. Nine years on, NATO decided at its 2016 summit that cyberspace would become the fourth domain of war, in addition to land, sea and air. For the first time since its founding in 1949, NATO had decided that wars can be waged in other ways than kinetically.

Every even remotely thorough article or book on cyberwarfare starts with the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia these days.

Concept broadening

However, non-kinetic warfare went beyond cyberattacks. The dizzying pace of Internetization resulted in social media in the early 2000s the first flagship of which was Facebook. Things picked up even more momentum when social media moved to smart portable devices that made the Internet and social media universally attainable. Facebook alone has nearly three billion users today to which we can add China’s Weichat and the Russian vKontakte.

It only took a few years for social media to fan the…

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