US, Estonian officials highlight security risks of untrusted technology

  • 2022-05-30
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The US embassy in Estonia and the Estonian Ministry of the Interior co-hosted technical experts from both countries to discuss the national security risks associated with soliciting services and technology from untrusted vendors. 

Experts from the US Department of Energy, US Department of Homeland Security, and US Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as officials from the offices of the Estonian Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of the Economic Affairs and Communications, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addressed a range of issues, spokespeople for the US embassy said.

The issues addressed included the national security risks of working with untrusted telecommunications vendors; techniques for governments to independently evaluate the security risks associated with technology products; and options for governments to implement legislation and policy to protect against those risks.

"The United States is strongly committed to global critical infrastructure security and resilience, which is vital to ensuring the national and economic security of the United States, our allies, and partners. We value our work with the government of Estonia to advance these efforts," US Embassy Tallinn Charge d'Affaires Brian Roraff said.

"Because of the interconnectivity of critical infrastructure, we must work together to ensure that the technologies we employ are trusted and can be relied upon to safeguard the information that is the backbone of our economies and national security," Roraff said.

Veiko Kommusaar, deputy secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of the Interior for internal security, law enforcement, and migration policy, said in his presentation that reducing threats starts with recognizing them and the reliability of national security systems' technology is of high importance.

"We consider sharing our and our US colleagues' experience and knowledge to our partners very important. Today's seminar is a good example of a strong and effective cooperation between Estonia and the United States in creating unified security," the official said.

The event highlighted the importance of collaborating with allies and partners to protect against untrusted vendors, as vendors based in countries that do not respect free and fair trade, the rule of law, transparency, and privacy rights whose governments undermine human rights and force companies to support the intelligence activities of the state pose significant risks to the security of our infrastructure. 

Speakers also stressed the need for governments to be proactive in vetting the technology used in these critical national security systems consistent with their obligation to safeguard their citizen’s data and ensure that government services remain resilient and free from foreign interference.