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The Daily Vertical: Estonia's New Web Warriors (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

If you happen to be a small country on Russia's borders facing a revanchist Kremlin, then thinking outside the box about your security isn't just desirable -- it's an absolute necessity.

It's a matter of survival.

And once again, tiny Estonia is showing itself to be a leading innovator.

Case in point: Estonia is now giving qualified draftees in its armed forces the option of being cyber warriors instead of serving in the infantry.

Rather than marching with assault rifles and digging trenches, a select group of young tech-savvy Estonian conscripts can now man keyboards and write code to protect their country from cyberattacks.

For the time being, the experimental program involves just a handful of conscripts, but it is expected to expand.

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As Estonia's undersecretary of defense, Erki Kodar, told The Associated Press, if you've drafted someone with applicable IT skills, then why should their talent be wasted driving a jeep?

Estonia's experiment with cyberconscripts comes on the heels of a NATO decision at last summer's Warsaw summit to define cyber as an "operational domain."

And it comes as an increasing number of cybersecurity and military experts are suggesting that Western armed forces establish separate cyber-branches.

Now, Estonia was the victim of a Russian cyberattack before it was cool, way back in 2007.

It knew what it felt like to be the target of a Kremlin hacking campaign before the rest of us did.

And Estonia is again proving that the smallest and most vulnerable countries can be the best innovators.

And we could all stand to learn a thing or two from them.

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