How A Cyber Attack Transformed Estonia

Cyber-attacks, information warfare, fake news - exactly 10 years ago Estonia was one of the first countries to come under attack from this modern form of hybrid warfare.

It is an event that still shapes the country today.

Head bowed, one fist clenched and wearing a World War Two Red Army uniform, the Bronze Soldier stands solemnly in a quiet corner of a cemetery on the edge of the Estonian capital Tallinn.

Flowers have been laid recently at his feet. It is a peaceful and dignified scene. But in April 2007 a row over this statue sparked the first known cyber-attack on an entire country.

The attack showed how easily a hostile state can exploit potential tensions within another society. But it has also helped make Estonia a cyber security hotshot today.

From outrage to outage

Unveiled by the Soviet authorities in 1947, the Bronze Soldier was originally called "Monument to the Liberators of Tallinn". For Russian speakers in Estonia he represents the USSR's victory over Nazism.

But for ethnic Estonians, Red Army soldiers were not liberators. They are seen as occupiers, and the Bronze Solider is a painful symbol of half a century of Soviet oppression.

In 2007 the Estonian government decided to move the Bronze Soldier from the centre of Tallinn to a military cemetery on the outskirts of the city.

The decision sparked outrage in Russian-language media and Russian speakers took to the streets. Protests were exacerbated by false Russian news reports claiming that the statue, and nearby Soviet war graves were being destroyed.

BBC

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