The Chatter Podcast: Recovering from a Russian Attack with Toomas Ilves

David Priess
Thursday, March 10, 2022, 9:13 AM

This week's episode goes back a decade and a half to the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia—and brings the conversation to today.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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This week's episode goes back a decade and a half to the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia--and brings the conversation to today, both with lessons we can learn from the country's digitalization and information security awareness and with discussion of how Russia's earlier aggression previewed its recent invasion of Ukraine.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves served as Estonia's Ambassador to the United States, Canada, and Mexico and then its Foreign Minister (twice) before becoming the country's president in 2006. During the first of his two five-year terms in that office, Estonia suffered a wave of Russian or Russian-backed cyberattacks that shut down much of the highly online country. But Estonia recovered quickly, using the crisis as an opportunity to speed up its already advanced digitization and to expand its cyber education efforts.

I spoke with Ilves about his parents' experience fleeing wartime Estonia as Russians started mass deportations to Siberia, his education and early exposure in coding in 1971, the cyberattacks of 2007, how the government and society responded, how others in Europe reacted to this and other Russian provocations, Estonian education and e-government initiatives, and why the new Russian invasion of Ukraine has (so far) lacked a major cyber warfare element. 

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo.

Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad. See for privacy and opt-out information.

David Priess is Director of Intelligence at Bedrock Learning, Inc. and a Senior Fellow at the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security. He served during the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations as a CIA officer and has written two books: “The President’s Book of Secrets,” about the top-secret President’s Daily Brief, and "How To Get Rid of a President," describing the ways American presidents have left office.

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