President Ilves Visits US CYBERCOM, Discusses Cyber Security
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who arrived in Washington for a working visit that will focus on cyber security issues, visited the Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) of the United States of America yesterday afternoon and later in the evening met with its commander, General Keith B. Alexander, who is also the Director of the US National Security Agency (NSA). International co-operation in the sphere of cyber defence was the main subject discussed at the meeting between President Ilves and General Alexander. “NATO countries, like the European Union member states, are still operating at a national level when it comes to cyber defence,” acknowledged the Estonian head of state.
“Our goal must be to cope with cyber threats in a collective, reasonable manner as successfully as NATO protects its territory against so-called conventional threats,” President Ilves said. “The NATO Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn and the cyber defence policy that is being currently drafted by the alliance together with the related action plan represent important steps to challenge the sceptics who are afraid to contribute to cyber defence or think that only NATO’s own networks should be protected.”
However, this is a cross-border problem, in which not only military infrastructure but the functioning of the country as a whole stands to be threatened, taking into consideration banking, the availability of media, and the control systems of energy networks, the Estonian president stated.
He gave “a small example, which could inspire the large”, when speaking about cyber defence: close, regular and successful co-operation between the Estonian Criminal Police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in fighting cyber crime, involving the FBI sending a representative to take office in Tallinn, in the headquarters of our criminal police. “This example proves how co-operation can increase mutual success,” said the Estonian head of state.
He recalled that in certain situations we experience a unique public private partnership, where the interests of some governments and the activities of hackers from the same country work together towards weakening other countries.
“We can oppose this through a strong public private partnership of our own, which means co-operation between the state, IT sector endeavours, and good citizens,” President Ilves emphasised. “The cyber defence alliance that was recently established in Estonia represents one opportunity for directing co-operation between the state and volunteers – pre-emptively – at enhancing our own cyber security.”
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