Source: The Christian Science Monitor | Cybersecurity 2020: What Estonia knows about thwarting Russians | Alfredi Sosa

Russian hackers are believed to have carried out the world’s first politically motivated cyberattack against a nation in 2007, leaving large parts of Estonian society electronically dark. As the United States heads into the 2020 election, looking to better protect itself against Russian interference, Estonia offers key lessons.

This tiny country bordering Russia has become known around the world for its cybersecurity expertise and secure online voting system. But its greatest defenses may not be technical at all. They lie in a way of thinking – an urgency and unity of purpose that impel coordination across diverse sectors.

“For the U.S., my suggestion would be not to wait until a cyber 9/11 but to come together much earlier,” says Marina Kaljurand, a cybersecurity expert and former ambassador to the U.S.

Estonia’s cyber minutemen, volunteers affectionately dubbed the “nerd reserves,” come mainly from the country’s vibrant information technology community. But they also include teachers, lawyers, and utility employees. “They fight for free, basically, and that’s the beauty of doing it of free will,” says Aivar Sarapik, an Estonian Orthodox priest who has served as the unit’s chaplain. “You protect your lifestyle, you protect your value system, you protect who you are.”