Term Paper: Estonia Cyber Attacks 2007 Estonian

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[. . .] However, the incident promptly drew attention from all over the world. The attacks were labeled as "the first Cyber War" by the worldwide media. This whole situation directed to a general "cyber war hype" that was constantly advanced by media, researchers and policymakers (Czosseck, Ottis & Taliharm).

Urmas Paet, the Foreign Minister of Estonia, promptly laid the blame of cyber attacks on Russia. However, the European Commission and NATO technical experts did not find any believable and convincing evidence of the involvement of Kremlin in the DDoS strikes (Herzog, 2011). There was a persistent issue of whom to accuse. Kremlin continuously denied any participation in the penetration of attacks. On the other hand, the IP addresses at the back of the attacks recommended that the computers used for attacking Estonia were from Russian locations. However, Russian officials claimed that the identified IP addresses were cloned. They also said that that the usage of names and contact numbers by the professional hackers was to spoil Estonia-Russia relationship. Thus, the charges were simply denied by the Russian officials (Kampmark, 2007). They proceeded to accuse the European Union "for its 'double-standards' regarding human rights and the matter of the Russian minority" (Kampmark, 2007). The Estonian authorities made a few attempts to arrest some in-country culprits behind the cyber attacks, but they never succeeded in uncovering the main culprits (Herzog, 2011).

The investigations showed that attributing Russia as the culprit was wrong because no Russian government computers were used in launching the attacks. Thus, it was not an easy task to discover and identify who was using the Internet at the other end. Some claimed that botnets (robot networks) were used in the Estonia case. Botnets are used by cyber criminals who acquire remote control of a computer by underhandedly loading software on it. It is, on the other hand, not known to the users of the computers that their systems have been conciliated. Thus, it is also being said that some huge botnets were used to overburden the Estonian servers by sending thousands of messages a minute that consequently caused those servers to crash (Lewis, 2007).

This assumption, however, does not verify that there was no involvement of the Russian government in this whole scenario. There is a possibility that the government agents of Russia could have utilized the chat-room or mailing systems platform to provoke nationalistic Russian hackers and cyber criminals. Those jingoistic hackers were perhaps aggravated to thrash Estonian networks as a penalty for moving the grim bronze statue of a Soviet soldier (Lewis, 2007). The Estonian authorities arrested Dmitri Galushkevich, an ethnic Russian, was arrested as the first person whose involvement was proved in the Estonian cyber war. He was charged of directing a cyber attack due to which the website of the Reform Party of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip was blocked. As the first wrongdoer, he was fined $1,620 dollars (Liptak, 2009).

Cyber Terror -- Multinational Responses

When Estonia went under the cyber-terror attacks, the international community was shocked. They became anxious about the future assaults in which the hackers may intend to control the traffic lights, water supply, power grids, air traffic controls, or even the military weapon systems of a state. The Estonian crisis openly and very clearly indicated that the Internet has turned out to be a great influential "asymmetric tool for transnational groups who view themselves as disenfranchised and seek to intimidate the nation-states and other actors presumably responsible for their grievances" (Herzog, 2011). The nations worldwide became conscious of their national sovereignty and afraid of the hackers who could target their digital networks and critical infrastructure.

Thus, the cyber terrorism on Estonia that was initiated in 2007 was not just an impermanent and short-term nuisance. Instead, the society saw it as a serene edition of a new-fangled structure of digital violence that could stop the progress and operations of the public services, commerce, and government. An obstruction is an appropriate equivalence as cyber-terrorist attacks in the future will possibly interrupt and disturb the water and electricity supplies, telecommunications and national defenses of any country (Herzog, 2011).

The international community rapidly responded after seeing the weightiness of the attacks on Estonia. Estonia was not prepared to counter cyber acts of terrorism. It had always been concentrating on being prepared for facing the traditional acts of terrorism. The normal network operations that had been disrupted after the cyber attacks were restored after the government Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) was assisted by computer geniuses from Finland, Germany, Israel and Slovenia. They were also facilitated by the expertise of NATO CERTs European Union's European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA). The crisis brought together the western countries. Therefore, at one hand, the Internet was used as weapon and mobilization tool by the Russian-speaking hackers; on the other hand, Estonia and its allies successfully responded to the attacks by using digital networks (Herzog, 2011).

The worldwide reactions to the 2007 attacks on Estonia pointed towards the change in international policies. They clearly indicated that the countries would not continue to be disconnected and unworried as both political and nonpolitical actors endangered the autonomy of their allies by means of the Internet as a weapon. It is exceedingly important to mention here that a number of countries started to improve and enhance their possessed cyber-warfare competencies and stratagems as a consequence of this whole scenario (Herzog, 2011).


The current matter of cyber security is an unending one. With the development of more and more former Soviet satellites with a superior and sophisticated IT structure, it has become a reality that they will be challenged with attacks from cyberspace. Not considering whether the Russian government was involved in any cyber attacks on Estonia or would be involved in attacking it in the future, it has now become a reality that all the opponents of Russia may face a cyber attack. It has also become another reality that cyber attacks will be used to pressurize public or to manipulate leaders. It is also a probability that along with the combat operations, the future conflicts could involve the use of cyber attacks (Ashmore, 2009).

At present, there are insufficient international agreements and laws. This lack has allowed the cyber attackers to take advantage of it. Therefore, they are not afraid of conducting acts of civil waywardness on the internet. A similar cyber attack in Georgia became the motivator for military reform in the country. No one can interfere and stop the Russian government and the Russian military to expand systems to advance both their odious and self-protective cyber competencies (Ashmore, 2009).

It is exceedingly important for every organization and nation to create an in-depth flexible defense system. The users and managers of IT systems must be educated and trained to respond to the menace of a cyber attack. The defense must include technical responses to oppose the threats. It must be made sure to make the IT systems effective and efficient. In 2001, President Bush commented that the time has now come "to work together to address the new security threats that we all face. And those threats are not simply missiles or weapons of mass destruction in the hands of untrustworthy countries. Cyber-terrorism is a threat, and we need to work on that together" (as qtd. In Ashmore, 2009).

Thus, there is a need for computer users to increase their knowledge and understanding of information security and the risks that stem from the cyber environment. The different target groups of the society must be made aware of secure computer use and the necessary principles of information security. It has also become important for nations to promote their positions on cyber safety measures at both the national and international levels.


Ashmore, W.C. (2009). Impact of Alleged Russian Cyber Attacks. Baltic Security & Defence Review, 11, 4-40. Retrieved June 9, 2012 from http://www.bdcol.ee/files/files/documents/Research/BSDR2009/1_ Ashmore - Impact of Alleged Russian Cyber Attacks .pdf

Authority of the House of Lords, European Union Committee. (2010). Protecting Europe against Large-Scale Cyber-Attacks. Retrieved June 8, 2012 from the Stationery Office Limited website: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldselect/ldeucom/68/68.pdf

Czosseck, C., Ottis, R., & Taliharm, A. (n.d.). Estonia after the 2007 Cyber Attacks: Legal, Strategic and Organisational Changes in Cyber Security. Retrieved June 8, 2012 from http://www.ccdcoe.org/articles/2011/Czosseck_Ottis_Taliharm_Estonia_After_the_2007_Cyber_Attacks.PDF

Herzog, S. (2011). Revisiting the Estonian Cyber Attacks: Digital Threats and Multinational Responses. Journal of Strategic Security, IV (2), 49-60. Retrieved June 9, 2012 from http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1105&context=jss

Kampmark, B. (2007, Autumn). Cyber Warfare between Estonia and Russia. Contemporary Review, 289, 288+. Retrieved June 9, 2012, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5024997063

Lake, E. (2011, August 15). Gunman's Manifesto Has Echoes of Russia Propaganda Attack. The Washington Times (Washington, DC), p. A11. Retrieved June 8, 2012, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5050412761

Lewis, J.A. (2007, June 15). Cyber Attacks Explained. Retrieved June 9, 2012 from http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/070615_cyber_attacks.pdf

Liptak, D.A. (2009, October). Information Warfare. Searcher, 17, 21+. Retrieved June 7, 2012, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5045044224 [END OF PREVIEW]

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