Cyber security for a country can't be guaranteed by working alone. Cyber security is assured by international cooperation, research and development between countries and the effective preparation of cyber security specialists at universities, whether at home or abroad. It's mainly the development of studies that is contributed to by the IT Academy, which supports the Master's studies of Tallinn University of Technology cyber security students with a scholarship. The IT Academy is a programme managed by the Information Technology Foundation for Education, which supports information and communication technology (ICT) and ICT-related subject studies in Estonia and abroad.
The cyber defence Master's programme trains specialists for such positions as information security managers, security analysts, security testers, software developers working in security and system or web administrators. Over two years, the students gain knowledge of the fundamentals and management of cyber security, its legal basis, malware, hacking and mass attacks of information systems and their protection, cryptology and the history of the art of war from ancient times to web-based warfare.
In mid-November Tallinn University of Technology, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Police and Border Guard Board, the Estonian Forensic Science Institute and the Information System Authority signed a letter of intent for the Tallinn University of Technology cyber forensics and cyber security centre. The centre is designed to boost the competence and capability of Estonian cyber security with studies, research and development.
Tallinn University of Technology docent and chair of web software Dr Rain Ottis introduces the newly established centre:
The centre has grown up around the international Master's curriculum in Cyber Security which started in 2009, and which now has almost 200 students – of whom around 50% are international students. In the last few years we’ve added five doctoral candidates and several international science and education projects. The centre's team is still very small, but it’s growing rapidly.
The aim of the centre is to boost Estonia's competence in the areas of cyber security and cyber forensics with the help of research, development and studies. We work closely with both the Estonian public sector (the Information System Authority, the Police and Border Guard Board, the Defence Forces and others) and the private sector (including Clarified Security and BHC Laboratory), as well as with international partners.
The centre has a good working relationship with the NATO Centre of Cyber Defence (CCD COE), at which many of our former and current students, doctoral candidates and visiting lecturers work. In addition, students and professors from Tallinn University of Technology participate in the NATO centre’s annual ‘Locked Shields’ exercise, which included 17 countries and almost 300 participants in 2014.
Teaching, research and development – which is most important at present?
At the moment the centre’s concentrating mostly on
teaching, because we're responsible for the international cyber security
curriculum and doctoral candidates researching cyber security topics. We carry
out Master's studies in cooperation with the University of Tartu and experts
from private companies and public sector establishments.
At the same time we’ve got several ongoing science and research projects – including the FP7 E-CRIME projects researching the economic aspects of cyber crime, and two Tempus projects focussed on Ukraine and Montenegro – and in the next few years we expect our research and teaching areas to equalise.
In summer 2015 the Information Technology Foundation for Education, the Ministry of Education and Research, the IT Academy and Tallinn University of Technology will be joining forces to organise the first international cyber defence summer school. What are the expectations and hopes related to it?
The centre is the organiser of the research and teaching side of the summer school. The content of the school’s being taken care of by Olaf Maennel, who joined the team this summer and who’s invited several renowned experts from all over the world to give lectures at it.
How would you rate cyber security in Estonia at present?
Estonia’s in a relatively good position in world terms. Our main activities in the field of cyber security include the widely used ID card infrastructure and its services, the good level of awareness among the country’s governing body about the field and our reputation in the international arena. Estonia's biggest weakness is without doubt the lack of experts at all levels of cyber security areas.
What are the latest trends in global cyber security?
The spread of information technology and the Internet to different areas of life, which is also known as the ‘Internet of Things’, inevitably brings with it new security problems. For example, malware directed at smartphones and attacks against new smart devices in our everyday environments: at work, at school, at home, in the car and so on. The trend for automation continues in defence as well – solutions that are faster than people and with relatively autonomous decision-making rights are being created that can deal with threats as effectively as possible, without intervention from people.