A Model for State Cybersecurity
Raytheon-Estonia collaboration focuses on new tech, education
All across the northern European nation of Estonia, the Internet went down.
A series of sophisticated cyberattacks flooded the networks, tying up traffic in a hacking technique known as distributed denial of service. They targeted government agencies, banks, the media and other critical organizations. Web servers crashed. Hackers defaced webpages. Nothing was working.
The 2007 assault, launched amid a dispute over Estonia’s relocation of a Russian World War II monument, showed the damage a massive cyber offensive can cause. But from the digital rubble, Estonia has emerged as a model for larger nations on how to work with industry to protect Internet infrastructure. Estonia’s collaboration with Raytheon, which includes business-to-business engagement and initiatives to build the ranks of cyber experts, was a focus of a recent U.S.-Estonia Symposium on Cybersecurity and Defense Cooperation at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“The challenge around cyber is a global one. It’s local, it’s national and it’s international,” said John Harris, vice president of Business Development and CEO of Raytheon International, Inc. He delivered a keynote address, as did Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas. “Here’s a country that not only understands the challenge but also has the capability to defend. We thought, who better to collaborate with?”
Raytheon’s cyber collaboration with Estonia began in 2014, when the prime minister and a delegation of Estonian cybersecurity companies visited Raytheon’s Global Cyber Solutions Center in Virginia – a high-tech showroom where company experts demonstrate new technologies and host full-scale hacking and defense simulations.
Estonia and Raytheon announced the collaboration in 2015, adding to the company’s numerous international pacts in cybersecurity and beyond. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, Raytheon conducted a week of cybersecurity events in February as part of an effort to deepen the nation’s expertise in cyber defense.
“With cyber threats evolving constantly, nations of all sizes need to protect their assets against inevitable attacks,” Harris said. “Resilient governments work with industry partners to operate with confidence in cyberspace. We have a strong track record of partnering around the world to help nations, governments and organizations detect, deter and defeat cyber threats.”
Even before the attack, Estonia was a leader in using the Internet in commerce, government and everyday communication. But digitizing information, services and communication also means defending against – and recovering from – a cyberattack becomes harder.
“With today’s technology, an infinite amount of data is at our fingertips, and this increased access brings increased risk,” said Valecia Maclin, a cybersecurity director at Raytheon. “When a population becomes accustomed to doing business with their government digitally, they expect their government to keep those systems secure and operational, 24/7.”
Raytheon’s cyber collaboration with Estonia comes amid proposed changes to the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international pact that controls the export of weapons, items that can be used as weapons and related technology. The changes would restrict international trade of certain cybersecurity technologies, such as software that checks for vulnerabilities in computer networks.
Raytheon and other technology companies have objected, saying the changes would impede international collaboration on cyber technologies.
“That could be a significant challenge,” Harris said. “It was innovation that got us to this point, with respect to having an Internet of Things, and it will be innovation that will solve it. Innovation will solve the challenge ahead of us.”
Raytheon’s cyber innovations span information sharing, predictive analytics, forensics and situational awareness across areas of national interest. The team’s capabilities stem from 30 years of mission experience within the intelligence community, the acquisition of 17 cyber companies over the last decade, and a broad network of technical partnerships with cutting-edge cyber companies.