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The War on Estonia

May 24, 2007

CyberTerrorI’ve been meaning to post on the situation in Estonia, and how it relates to our work, but have been remiss. The episode is flying so far under the radar that I no longer know if it is still ongoing; I’m assuming that it is in the following post. Should any readers be able to point me to updated sources, I’d be most appreciative.

Estonia, a tiny Baltic nation formerly hidden behind the Soviet curtain is under attack. Right now. A sovereign nation under the protection of NATO is being pummeled viciously and we hear little to nothing about it. For all of the worrying about cyber-terrorism by homeland security and emergency management types, the response is kind of underwhelming.

But the consequences are real.

While these attacks have little to do with public health preparedness directly, they can serve as a wake up call to those of us that serve as planners.

The idea of a “virtual EOC” has been touted in the literature, yet we can see the consequences of depending, to a large degree, on our online presence could be extremely damaging.  Given that we are planning to respond to a natural disaster and subsequent terror attack, shouldn’t we also be aware that a cyber-terror attack could cripple our response infrastructure and mitigate the potential harm of such an attack?

A local Emergency Management Office providing first response to a CBR incident would be rendered nearly useless should that online infrastructure be compromised.  The primary incident could very easily be the cause of the lack of communications, but a secondary attack seems to be plausible (giving the current flavor for multiple incident planning) and should be taken into account.

As much as we are enamored with the latest technologies and social media (yes, me too), we have to be aware that in a disaster situation, these things will likely be the first things gone missing – and our several hundred thousand dollar EOC’s will be little more than comfortably HVAC’ed rooms with a multitude of very expensive paperweights.

Pay attention to what, if anything comes out of the Estonia attacks, and try to incorporate it into your own planning.

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