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NATO to focus on securing critical systems
Published: 2007-06-15

Defense ministers at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization called on Thursday for the group to to beef up cybersecurity following last month's attacks on the Web servers and network infrastructure in Estonia.

The concerns surfaced at the annual meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Belgium -- a two-day meeting largely dedicated to the controversial topic of deploying missile defense systems in Europe. However, the recent attacks on government Web sites and systems in the northern European country of Estonia became a significant second point of discussion, according to NATO spokesman James Appathurai. The spokesman said that the attacks were an eyeopener for many of the defense ministers at the organization.

"They were sustained; they were co-ordinated; they were focused; they were against a public information infrastructure of Estonia -- they had clear national security and economic implications for Estonia," Appathurai said during a press briefing. "There was sentiment around the table that urgent work is needed to enhance the ability to protect information systems of critical importance to the Alliance against cyberattacks and therefore that will be, I am sure, a subject of work here within NATO starting tomorrow or maybe Monday."

The attacks began on April 28, following violent clashes between the Estonian police and ethnic Russians in the country over the removal of a Red Army monument that symbolizes the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Union during World War II, but is also a reminder to Estonians of the more than four decades that the Soviets occupied the nation.

While the Estonian government has accused Russia of masterminding the attacks, evidence appears to indicate that bot masters sympathetic to the ethnic Russian cause were responsible. A 19-year-old student was detained and questioned in the case, but not charged.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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