TALLINN — Sluggish moves to counter the rising threat of cyber-attacks can be blamed on a generation of policymakers out of touch with rapid technological change, a senior US official said Monday.
“The truth is there are a lot of senior officials in many countries who barely even know how to use an email,” Rose Gottemoeller, US acting under-secretary for arms control and international security, said during a visit to Estonia.
“The change will come with the new generation,” she told the audience at a lecture delivered at the Estonian IT College, in the Baltic state’s capital Tallinn.
Estonia is one of the world’s most wired nations, and its high-tech savvy has earned it the nickname “E-Stonia”.
Home to NATO’s cyber-defence centre, founded in 2008, the nation of 1.3 million has been at the forefront of efforts to preempt cyber-attacks.
Estonia has bitter experience in the field.
A politically charged dispute with its Soviet-era master Moscow in 2007 was marked by a blistering cyber-attack blamed on Russian hackers — though the Kremlin denied any involvement.
Gottemoeller also said governments should consider incorporating open-source IT and social networking into arms control verification and monitoring.
“In order to pursue the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons, we are going to have to think bigger and bolder,” she explained.
“New concepts are not invented overnight, and we don’t understand the full range of possibilities inherent in the information age, but we would be remiss if we did not start thinking about whether new technologies can augment over half a century of arms control negotiating expertise,” she added.