A cyber-attack has never been qualified as an armed attack, but cyber operations will continue to be used to assist military goals, as we are witnessing in Ukraine. Applying cyber defence measures to defend critical digital assets, both military or civilian, should be an important part of any effective response strategy.
But what does constitute an armed attack in cyberspace?
Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Director of the Digital Society Institute at ESMT Berlin and previously Ambassador for Cyber Diplomacy and Director General for the Cyber Diplomacy Department at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, acknowledges the answer varies depending on a country’s dependency on digital technologies, it’s cyber resilience and robustness of key infrastructures, and its cyber defence and offense posture. Heli talks to Ronan.
Heli talks to Ronan about her background, when a cyber attack could be defined as an armed attack, the Estonian cyber attack in 2007, how to respond to cyber attacks and more.
More about Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar:
Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar has been the Director of the Digital Society Institute at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin since January 2022. From 2018 to 2021, she served as Ambassador for Cyber Diplomacy and Director General for the Cyber Diplomacy Department at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she led the efforts to promote international law and cyber norms during Estonia’s tenure on the United Nations Security Council.
From 2012 to 2018, Heli worked as a Head of Cyber Policy Coordination at the European External Action Service, where she coordinated EU external relations on cyber issues and co-led preparations of European Cyber Security Strategies. She set up EU strategic level cyber dialogues with the United States, India, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and China as well as international organizations.
She also kicked off EU global cyber capacity building programs and steered the development of the EU Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox to bolster European response to malicious cyber activities. In 2011, she was assigned to the NATO International Staff to prepare the NATO Cyber Defence Policy.
Heli has been working on cyber and tech policies since 2007 when she led the development of the first whole-of-government Estonian Cyber Security Strategy.
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