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  • Estonia suffered a massive cyberattack more than 10 years ago.

  • The event was a defining moment for the country and the world's approach toward cybersecurity.

  • And it all started with this statue.

  • From the WannaCry ransomware attack to election meddling,

  • cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common, and costly, around the world.

  • Global spending on information security products and services is expected to reach $124 billion in 2019.

  • But that hasn't been enough to stop cyberattacks from becoming one of the global economy's biggest threats.

  • So how can governments keep hackers out?

  • The short answer is they can't. But that doesn't mean they're not trying.

  • One of the leaders in this space has been the tiny Baltic country of Estonia,

  • which gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

  • For years, this Bronze Statue stood in the center of Tallinn as a Soviet War memorial.

  • Then in 2007, the Estonian government decided to move it here to a less prominent location.

  • The move sparked protests and riots from Estonia's ethnic Russian population that wanted the statue to stay in place.

  • Then, within days, Estonian institutions were crippled by a series of cyberattacks.

  • Parliament, government ministries, banks and newspapers went offline.

  • And though it hasn't ever been confirmed, it's widely believed that Russia was behind the attacks.

  • The 2007 attack on Estonia has been called the first cyberwar, which is defined as: "the use of computer technology to disrupt the activities of a state or organization".

  • The cyberattack was a wake-up call for Estonia,

  • which at the time was already one of the world's most advanced digital societies.

  • The country decided it needed to take steps to protect data online and prevent future cyberattacks.

  • But how?

  • The first step was building a strategy that would allow the government to keep systems up and running during a cyberattack.

  • IT experts in the public and private sectors worked together

  • to make systems more resilient against hackers.

  • One part of Estonia's strategy is a voluntary Cyber Defence League made up of hundreds of civilians,

  • including IT professionals and young people who would mobilize during an attack.

  • Estonia also decided to store copies of its information in a data embassy in Luxembourg,

  • as a backup in case there was a cyberattack on home soil.

  • Which brings us to another key deterrent for cyber threats, international cooperation.

  • NATO, the military alliance between North American and European countries, was a good place to start.

  • In 2008, the 'NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence' opened here in Tallinn.

  • Its goal?

  • To enhance NATO's cyber defense capabilities.

  • The center conducts large-scale cyber defense drills, sort of like digital military training,

  • though it's not technically a NATO operational unit.

  • It also put together a guide called the Tallinn Manual, which analyzes how to apply existing international law to cyber operations.

  • In 2016, NATO allies agreed that a cyberattack on a member country

  • could trigger the same military response as an attack in the air, on land or at sea.

  • EU-wide regulation has also upped the penalties against data breaches.

  • The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, that went into effect in 2018,

  • (It) gave EU regulators the power to fine companies that don't protect user data.

  • And, unlike in the past, the fines can be massive.

  • up to 4% of global annual turnover or €20 million, whichever is bigger.

  • Still, many countries have not taken steps to prepare for cyber threats.

  • The United Nations found half of its member states don't have a cybersecurity strategy in place.

  • The UN ranks Estonia as the European country most committed to cybersecurity.

  • And fifth worldwide after Singapore, the United States, Malaysia and Oman.

  • But even Estonia isn't hacker-proof.

  • Authorities still responded to more than 10,000 cybersecurity incidents in 2017,

  • one third more than the year before.

  • Which brings us to one final big step in preventing a cyberattack, getting the public on board.

  • This can be as simple as using two-factor authentication or changing your password from, well, “password.”

  • Research found only one out of every four internet users in Europe

  • changes his or her password regularly because of security and privacy issues.

  • In Estonia, it took an unprecedented cyberattack for the country to become a leader in online security.

  • Other countries might want to take a note as the threats of cyberattacks only become bigger and more complex.

  • Hey everyone, Elizabeth here. Thanks so much for watching our video.

  • Be sure to check out all of our other CNBC Explains over here.

  • And leave us any other ideas in the comments section.

  • See you later!

Estonia suffered a massive cyberattack more than 10 years ago.

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How Do You Stop a Cyberwar? | CNBC Explains

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    Liang Chen posted on 2019/01/07
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