The newly established Estonian Information Security Association, a cybersecurity competence centre bringing together academia and private sector, signed a cooperation agreement last week with the Estonian Ministry of Defence and Estonian Information Systems Authority. The joint effort brings together government, Estonia-based cyber security companies and research institutions to formalize existing ties and enhance R&D activities across sectors. Founding members feature leading Estonian cybersecurity companies (BHC Laboratory, Clarified Security, Cybernetica, Guardtime) and esteemed academic institutions, including Tallinn University of Technology. The joining process of Tartu University is ongoing.
„Estonia has been a global information security hotspot for a decade. Given the fast pace of innovation and the ever-expanding threat and risk landscape, we realise now more than ever that joint efforts across sectors and strong partnership between the government, academia and the private sector are fundamental to sustaining this highly digital way of life Europe has chosen,“ highlighted Taimar Peterkop, Director General of the Estonian Information System Authority, adding that joint R&D leading to knowledge transfer and smart procurement are priorities for any government.
“Having seen this year how EU has turned a new page in its approach to cyber security and having also been through a nation-wide transparent risk management relating to our government-backed identity, it is clear that this formal agreement also helps us to take a step forward as a nation as well. We aim to make our experiences better accessible and usable to EU and other international partners,” Peterkop added.
“Cyber security has to be a fundamental consideration of any information system or solution. Estonia is proof that it can and should be practiced together across sectors, be it through exercises, trainings, standards or knowledge sharing,” noted Erki Kodar, Under Secretary for Legal and Administrative Affairs at the Ministry of Defence.
„Estonia has been a successful test lab for secure digital services ranging from a digital identity scheme to online voting and integration of blockchain into data integrity solutions. This new partnership allows us to further focus on our efforts on demonstrable and scalable strengths of this diverse ecosystem,“ emphasised Martin Ruubel, President of Guardtime, co-founder of the association.
According to Oliver Väärtnõu, CEO of Cybernetica, one of the founding companies of the association, the new competence centre will further encourage cross-sector R&D initiatives „In addition to technical competence, Estonia is unique in fostering a nation-wide ecosystem of public and private sector digital services, based on security by design as much as building trust across the society and economy,“ said Väärtnõu.
Over the past two decades, Estonia has built a nation-wide digital ecosystem, boasting a wealth of governmental and private sector digital services that has led to a competitive and diverse cyber security economy ranging from agile start-ups to world-renowned international corporations. Estonia also has a proven track record of international cooperation, including hosting EU-level institutions and the NATO CCD COE, a think tank and training facility in Tallinn.
This cooperation formalises existing cooperation between enterprises, research institutions and government agencies. The agreement lays foundation for further cooperation across sectors and focus areas ranging from particular technologies to macro problems such as data integrity, cyber capacity building and hygiene as well as skills development. In particular, secure digital identity will be one of the focal points of the collaboration as Estonia has extensive experience in building a nation-wide digital identity framework with the compulsory Estonian ID-card launched back in 2002, providing expertise also in the related fields of cryptography, creating regulatory frameworks, building public and private sector joint digital services and the sociology of digitalisation as well as agile development, smart procurement and risk management.