Dear finalists and winners of the Apps 4 Digital Peace
Dear Judges and Guests
It is an honour and privilege for me to address you today. I am sorry that I have to do it via video and prerecord. I am sorry that I do not see your faces. I am sorry that I am not able to talk to you in person and get to know you better.
But that is today’s reality and I am prerecording this video on Sunday, September 20th.
We are in the middle of COVID-19 crisis – pandemic that changed the world. It put digitalization and cybersecurity high on political agenda. It has already shown that digitalization and accessible internet were crucial for e-schooling, remote working and for running democracy.
Apps 4 Peace competition could not have been more timely. And I am incredibly happy and thrilled to talk to you today.
I would like to start with my personal story. My name is Marina. I am a woman, grandmother, politician, Member of European Parliament, I studied law and diplomacy, served 25 years in the foreign service, even became Ambassador and Foreign Minister. I do not have IT education and I do not know how to program but cybersecurity has been part of my professional life since 2007. You might ask – why and how? I will tell you.
I come from Estonia. Yes, it is a country and an incredibly unique country. It is a country where you can enjoy thousands of online services, including online voting, online taxation, school, police, banking etc. As a matter of fact, there are only 3 things you can’t do online in Estonia – get married, divorce and buy property.
We have had the privilege of living in e-Estonia for more than 30 years. We call it e-lifestyle. We have enjoyed the benefits of e-life and we have faced challenges.
Estonia was the first country in the world to fall under cyberattacks from another country for political reasons. It was 2007 and those were D-DOS attacks, primitive by today’s standards. They did not kill anybody or destruct anything. But they were disturbing, they took down some of our online services and websites, they undermined our people’s trust. I was then Estonian Ambassador to Russia, I was in Moscow and I had to learn very quickly what do D-Dos attacks mean because I had to start looking for ways of cooperating with Russian authorities from whose territory the attacks were taking place. In the end we did not cooperate with Russia. But we, Estonians, and I think many other nations too, were once again reminded about importance of free, open, stable, safe and secure internet.
We learned several other lessons, including importance of cooperation and inclusion. Cyber stability is not an exclusive playground for States. And the internet is not a unique island for IT persons.
Charles Percy Snow, Baron Snow, was an English novelist and physical chemist who also served in several important positions in the British Civil Service. He is known for The Two Cultures, a lecture in which he laments the gulf between scientists and “literary intellectuals”.
He argued in 1959 “that the intellectual life of the whole of western society was divided into two separate parts – the sciences and the humanities – and that the two kinds of academic pursuit were separated by an ever-deepening gulf of incomprehension, dislike and mistrust. The core of his argument was that the application of science and technology, and the prosperity that was presumed to follow, offered the best hope for meeting mankind’s fundamental needs, but that this goal was being frustrated by the gulf of ignorance between the two cultures.
Sounds familiar in 2020, more than 60 years later?
I would argue that for years online world was divided between on one hand IT people who thought that world wide web belonged exclusively to them and spoke IT language and on the other hand ordinary people who did not understand what IT people were talking about.
Some years ago, at the Black Hat USA, I had the privilege to listen to a key note address delivered by then Facebook CISO Alex Stamos, who talked about diversity and need of investing into young talents. He spoke the language that I understood. I am very impressed that Alex did not only say these things but has also acted according to his words. He is a professor at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. lecturing at Stanford and is a judge at this competition.
Dear participants – you are an exceptionally good example of how young talents can and should be engaged in digital topics and cyber peace in particular.
Professor Joe Nye used to say that our generation is a generation of aliens’ in cyberspace. We had to learn and adjust to the very rapid development in cyberspace. Your generation was born after the ICT revolution, you are a natural part of cyberspace, this is your natural habitat and the only space you know.
Of the eight billion people in the world, around a quarter are between the ages of 10 to 24 – the largest youth population that has ever existed. That is the reason why more attention is focused on young people as ‘essential partners in change’, You will have a huge impact on the future of digitalization and cyber stability. It is a huge privilege but also responsibility.
The debate on international peace and security issues in cyberspace is at a critical juncture. We are deliberating on the path that will probably decide the next decade of international cybersecurity, and therefore also play a role of how we experience cyberspace’s most important infrastructure, the internet.
Cyberattacks have become a new normality. They have become more sophisticated; they cause huge economic loss and threaten democracy. In today’s polarized world it has become more important than ever before to adhere to international law and norms of responsible state behaviour. It is important to call out those who violate international law. And it is crucial to cooperate with all stakeholders.
Dear participants, it is good to know that you have given much thought to the existing challenges and you have concrete suggestions that can turn the world into a “cyber safer place”.
I would like to say some words particularly to girls and women participating in this competition. First of all I would like to recognize and compliment you for being part of this competition. I strongly support that there should be more women in cybersecurity. Present situation reminds me how much time it took and how difficult it was for women to enter diplomacy, foreign policy, security policy. Finally, women have occupied some very important posts in Governments, Industry, as well as international organizations, although it should have happened much earlier and there is still a long way to go.
When talking about women in cybersecurity we remember English mathematician Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron, has been called “the first computer programmer” for writing an algorithm for a computing machine in the mid-1800s. In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense named a newly developed computer language “Ada,” after Lovelace.
Today you had the chance to hear from Her Excellency Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, a Japanese women who fought stereotypes and broke a glass ceiling in order to become one of the world’s top diplomats in the field of security, including cybersecurity. I have the honour of knowing Izumi personally and I admire her.
Last week-end world mourned and remembered notorious R.B.G – yes, Ruth Bader Ginsburg – late Justice of the Supreme Court of the US. Look how many people from very different countries and backgrounds said good things about her. She was one of those brave women who broke stereotypes and glass ceilings. She will be always remembered for her professional work, her personality and wise words. I remember reading about her mother: “My mother told me two things constantly. One was to be a lady, and the other was to be independent. The study of law was unusual for women of my generation. For most girls growing up in the ’40s, the most important degree was not your B.A., but your M.R.S.”
Different centuries, different stories, different women. What unites them is the fact of being role models for other women. And today, you all are role models for my generation as well as other generations to come.
Dear participants and finalists and winners.
Today you all are winners. Your participation in this competition has shown the whole world that young people care and are ready to take responsibility. This competition was launched in January to stimulate original thinking on ways to promote an open, secure, stable, and accessible cyberspace for all. To find new Vint Cerfs or Bob Kahns but also Ada Lovelaces.
I would like to thank you, to congratulate you and wish you all success in your future endeavours! We are looking at you with admiration, hope and certainty.
To conclude, please allow me one more personal story. My grandmother never saw a TV, I was born before the internet. Today I am grandmother of 3 wonderful boys. This week I was baby-sitting two of them – one is 2 years old and another is 2 months old. The older one learned to brush his teeth from a video on iPad. I watched him brushing teeth and tried to imagine what his grandson will do one day.