Threat Intelligence

12/5/2018
11:20 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Former Estonian Foreign Minister Urges Cooperation in Cyberattack Attribution, Policy

Nations must band together to face nation-state cyberattack threats, said Marina Kaljurand.

BLACK HAT EUROPE 2018 – London – As nation-state cyberattacks continue to evolve into more complex and disruptive campaigns, the pressure is on for countries to set specific cybernorms and support one another in the attribution of nation-state hacks, according to Marina Kaljurand, chair of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) and Member of the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.

The former Estonian Foreign Minister, who was serving as the ambassador to Russia in 2007 when her country was hit with historic distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks by Russia, said in an interview with Dark Reading that without "a clear understanding" of attack attribution, bad actors continue to operate in the "gray zone."

"Russia attacked Estonia, and nothing really happened. The next year it was the war and cyberattacks on Georgia, and nothing really happened. Then the attack on the Ukraine power grid, and nothing happened," Kaljurand said of Russia's increasingly aggressive cyberattack campaigns. It wasn't until the US, under President Barack Obama, called out Russian actors in the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that nations began to name the culprits behind state-sponsored hacking, she said. 

Kaljurand, who delivered the keynote address here today, was serving as the Estonian ambassador to Russia when Russian hackers took down her country's government and bank websites with a weeks-long DDoS attack wave. "We were the first country to fall victim to politically motivated attacks. Those DDoS attacks were primitive by today's standards. ... They didn't [destroy] anything; they were humiliating and disturbing," she said.

As the ambassador to Russia, she then "had to learn in 15 minutes what does DDoS mean and explain it to others," she said. "My second task was to find cooperation with Russia. I failed: It takes two to tango."

Kaljurand said one of the main lessons from the Estonia attacks was that international cooperation is the key to thwarting malicious nation-state attacks. This new normal of nation-state cyberattacks requires educating nations that are not as up to speed on the issues, as well as fostering cooperation among like-minded nations to set and support cybernorms. "States alone can't be efficient," she said. "We need responsible laws, regulations, authority, and thinking out of the box."

The multination naming of Russia as the actor behind the NotPetya data-destruction attacks in 2013 was the first time multiple countries issued attribution statements at the same time, as well as sanctions in some cases. "To get a state to make [such a] statement wasn't easy," Kaljurand told Dark Reading.   

Offensive cyber operations are another area that must be addressed, she said. "Whatever measures that are taken must be in correspondence with international law," Kaljurand stated in the keynote. "It's important to consider the necessity, specificity, proportionality, and harm in case offensive capabilities are used. To have an open discussion on this is better than not having it or having it behind closed doors."

While some 60 to 70 countries today are talking about cybersecurity, hundreds in the developing world are not and need to be reached out to, she said.  

The GCSC so far has issued its set of recommended cybernorms for the protection of the public core of the Internet, but is still working on other security issues.  

How can cyberspace norms be enforced if not all nations comply? "Start with a political statement supporting it and then introduce it as practice, with clear rules of what is allowed and what is not," Kaljurand said in the interview. Ultimately, that will require some sort of international watchdog organization, she added.

Meanwhile, Estonia, like other nations, continues to be targeted by nation-state hackers. "I can't be specific" about the threats, Kaljurand told Dark Reading, but Russia remains active as well as other nations. 

Related Content:

 

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Higher Education: 15 Books to Help Cybersecurity Pros Be Better
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Worst Password Blunders of 2018 Hit Organizations East and West
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
10 Best Practices That Could Reshape Your IT Security Department
This Dark Reading Tech Digest, explores ten best practices that could reshape IT security departments.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-20161
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
A design flaw in the BlinkForHome (aka Blink For Home) Sync Module 2.10.4 and earlier allows attackers to disable cameras via Wi-Fi, because incident clips (triggered by the motion sensor) are not saved if the attacker's traffic (such as Dot11Deauth) successfully disconnects the Sync Module from the...
CVE-2018-20159
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
i-doit open 1.11.2 allows Remote Code Execution because ZIP archives are mishandled. It has an upload feature that allows an authenticated user with the administrator role to upload arbitrary files to the main website directory. Exploitation involves uploading a ".php" file within a "...
CVE-2018-20157
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
The data import functionality in OpenRefine through 3.1 allows an XML External Entity (XXE) attack through a crafted (zip) file, allowing attackers to read arbitrary files.
CVE-2018-20154
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
The WP Maintenance Mode plugin before 2.0.7 for WordPress allows remote authenticated users to discover all subscriber e-mail addresses.
CVE-2018-20155
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
The WP Maintenance Mode plugin before 2.0.7 for WordPress allows remote authenticated subscriber users to bypass intended access restrictions on changes to plugin settings.