The digital attack that brought Estonia to a standstill 10 years ago was the first shoot in a cyberwar that has been raging between Moscow and the west ever since
It began at exactly 10 pm on 26 April, 2007, when a Russian-speaking mob began rioting in the street of Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, killing person or persons and wounding dozens of others. That incident resonates powerfully in some of the recent conflicts in the US. In 2007, the Estonian government had announced that a bronze statue of a heroic second world war Soviet soldier was to be removed from a central city square. For ethnic Estonians, the statue had less to do with the war than with the Soviet occupation that followed it, which lasted until freedom in 1991. For the country's Russian-speaking minority- 25% of Estonia's 1.3 million people- the removal of the memorial was another sign of ethnic discrimination. Russia's government warned that the statue's removal would be “disastrous” for Estonia.
That evening, Jaan Priisalu- a former risk manager for Estonia's largest bank, Hansabank, who was working closely with the governmental forces on its cybersecurity infrastructure- was at home in Tallinn with his girlfriend when his phone reverberate. On the line was Hillar Aarelaid, the chief of Estonia's cybercrime police.
“It's going down,” Aarelaid declared. Alongside the street fighting, the reporting of digital assaults were beginning to filter in. The websites of the parliament, major universities, and national newspapers were crashing. Priisalu and Aarelaid had suspected something like this could happen one day. A digital attack on Estonia had begun.
Estonia boasts the most technologically advanced system of government in the world. Every citizen possesses a digital identity- an identification number and login code for access to completely digitised interactions with the country. Estonians can vote online, filetheir taxes, check medical records, access the national health care system, and receive notifications of most government attempts to access their personal records. About 97% of the country utilizes digital banking. The Estonian national ethic is dependent upon the idea that every citizen is transparent and the state is too. This induces Estonia extremely efficient- and extremely vulnerable.” We live in the future. Online banking, online news, text messages, online shopping- total digitisation has attained everything quicker and easier ,” Priisalu said.” But it also creates the possibility that we can be hurled back centuries in a couple of seconds .”
Over the following two nights, as the street combats began to wane, the attacks on Estonia's technological infrastructure picked up. The authorities were slow to recognise what the fuck is up. It wasn't until 24 hours later when the national defence minister realised he was unable to log on to the ruling party's website that they knew they had a major problem on their hands. Then the mail server for parliament crashed. News sites began to faltering. Some of the country's most widely read publications disappeared altogether.
Priisalu began to analyse the streams of data besieging the country's institutions. Vast ” botnets”- networks of captured and connected computers- were attempting to bring down computer systems with automated queries as part of a large DDoS( distributed denial-of-service) attack. “Mail-bombing” email onslaughts and volleys of status and location queries overloaded servers across the country, bringing crucial parts of the Estonian internet to a halting. Some websites, in agreement with the BBC, were “defaced,” redirecting users” to images of Soviet soldiers and cites from Martin Luther King Jr about defying evil “.” War dialling “, in which automated telephone call target a company or institution, placed a virtual siege on telephone number for government offices and parliament. On 10 May, Hansabank, Estonia's biggest bank, had to cease online services and international card transactions temporarily.