The 10th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
6-7 June 2011, Budapest (Godollö)
"Working Together on Cyber Security Threats"
Address by Mr. Urmas Paet, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia
Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting once again in order to discuss the global challenges we face.
In the times of accelerated globalization, no country is in a position to isolate itself or disregard emerging security challenges. To confront any global threat, a global response is needed. Along traditional security issues, more and more attention should be paid to non-traditional security threats like energy and food security, water management, and piracy. Not to mention cyber security, the topic on which I shall focus in today’s statement.
I am pleased to note the growing attention given to this most complex topic as it has come under deeper scrutiny in international as well as national agendas. However, tackling global challenges starts in everyone’s own backyard.
In Estonia we started to work on the enhancement of the security of our networked information systems more systematically about four years ago, after we had experienced heavy attacks on both our public and private Internet-based infrastructure. This made us act more vigorously than before, since we experienced first-hand that the cyber threat is not a virtual one, but very real and striking indeed. As attacks on cyber systems are growing more sophisticated, our response capabilities should always be aimed at foreseeing the intentions of possible attackers and being at least one step ahead.
So far, the most important step in enhancing our preparedness at the national level has been the adoption of a National Cyber Security Strategy that addresses Estonia’s long-term security and countermeasures against cyber-attacks. It produces a clear division of tasks among government institutions and foresees specific programs on information security for the government, the private sector, and civil society. Public-private partnership is crucial in this endeavour.
I would also like to highlight the importance of a widespread approach while raising the awareness in this field, as cyber security begins with each individual Internet user and depends on how knowingly and responsibly we all act in the virtual world. Only if we all value the same code of conduct in virtual culture will our citizens be able to fully harness the great benefits of cyberspace in the 21st century and fully enjoy the e-lifestyle.
What makes fighting cyber crime extremely complicated is its trans-boundary nature, as tracks are almost impossible to follow. The international architecture of the Internet offers smart attackers a high degree of anonymity, and the plausible deniability gained from proxy-hopping and cyber spoofing serves to slow investigations to a crawl. So it is crucial to solve the wide range of legal questions related to cyber security. The key in this context is international co-operation based on political determination.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In enhancing the global co-operation in this field, we should build upon already existing laws and regulations. Today the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cyber Crime, which was opened for signing here in Budapest ten years ago, serves as the only functioning international treaty in this field. Estonia’s aim is to unite as many nations as possible through the Convention on Cyber Crime and achieve international moral condemnation of cyber attacks.
Estonia is using every opportunity to promote the Convention and we support all efforts aimed at its universalisation. We continue, for example, to support the Council of Europe’s anti-cybercrime project, which is dedicated to introducing the Convention outside Europe and providing countries with specific legal aid.
By today 30 countries have enforced this unique piece of international legislation and I would like to use this opportunity to urge all countries that have not yet done so to sign and ratify it. This will enable us to create a common understanding and to ensure a more stable cyber world, where the manoeuvres of ill-minded criminals will be noticed, responded to, and prosecuted according to the universally acknowledged provisions of law.
I am pleased to note that besides Japan, who is currently the only Asian signatory of the Convention on Cyber Crime, other Asian countries have started their domestic preparations for bringing their legislation in line with the treaty. This is an important development for creating awareness and building our capacity to efficiently combat this global crime. After all, the Asia-Europe Meeting forms a major player on the global stage, involving partners that constitute over half of the global population, comprise over 60% of world trade, and account for more than half of global GDP.
Finally I would like to reiterate Estonia’s readiness to share our cyber security-related experience with the rest of the world. I hope that our lessons serve as a useful example for countries that have just started to enhance their capabilities in this sphere.