When Russia’s conventional war stops, cyberattacks will continue, warns Estonia’s PM
Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia, is warning that even when Russia’s conventional war in Ukraine ends, cyberattacks facing Western nations will not.
Speaking at the Munich Cyber Security Conference on Friday, Kallas explained that Estonia’s work to increase its cyber resilience was not based on an expectation that it would decrease the volume of attacks coming from adversaries. The former Soviet state, which shares a border with Russia, expects constant pressure.
“We see now, the Russian attacks — actually, they are not attributed officially, so maybe I can’t say this so openly — but the attacks on our systems, we see that they are learning,” Kallas said. “They see that ‘okay, these things are not going through’ so they are improving and constantly trying new ways to really undermine our system.”
She said that cyberattack victims should share information even if they felt ashamed for being hacked. “It’s important to get over this, because only this way others can learn,” she added.
The concept of cyber resiliency includes not only the ability to withstand attacks and other stresses on networks, but also capabilities to anticipate incidents and recover from them.
Cybersecurity experts say that resilience efforts can have different effects depending on the goals of the attacker. Criminally motivated groups, for example, might move on to another target. The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre’s former technical director Ian Levy put it this way: “You’re not trying to beat them, you’re trying to send them to France.”
Kallas said that she didn’t think resilience was going to deter state-sponsored actors in the same way. Attacks against Estonia have been increasing and changing, she added.
“I don’t get the reports every week, but when I go to the information agency, they show how, you know, okay, you said something here, attacks went up again. And here they changed tactics,” Kallas explained.
“As I say, the bad guys share information and develop their attacks. So I don’t see anywhere soon that they will lessen. I actually think that if the conventional war would stop, these attacks will continue on and on a broader scale as well.”
Alexander Martin is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.