Are companies alone when hit by foreign government-sponsored cyberattacks? Sergiy Vakarin discusses cybersecurity with ex-NSA Director and Estonian ex-President


On May 24, 2018 Panel Discussion «Cybersecurity and Disinformation in Ukraine and the West» was held by Victor Pinchuk Foundation. CEO of IronNet Cybersecurity Gen. Keith Alexander, Estonian President in 2006-2016 Toomas Hendrik Ilves, CEO of Jigsaw Jared Cohen and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Applebaum (Washington Post) were the panelists. This was the second public panel discussion in Ukraine on security issues organized by the Foundation.

The key message of the discussion was that new cyberattacks in Ukraine are imminent. But every country is going to be hit by similar problems and will need to solve them. Ukraine will lead in this area as it has most relevant experience, so it will come with best solutions. Education should be upgraded so that people know how to deal with cyberthreats from the childhood.

UkraineIS Chairman Sergiy Vakarin had a chance to discuss digital security with Gen. Keith Alexander, the longest-serving Director of the National Security Agency and ex-Commander of the US Cyber Command.

Sergiy Vakarin presented Ukrainian cybersecurity projects and asked Keith Alexander how individual companies and organizations should act when being hit by foreign government-sponsored cyberattacks. The General replied that companies should not be left alone to combat actions of foreign powers. Government, business and civil society should join their efforts to overcome such cyberattacks.

Read more: Blockchain for cars and spacecraft, Spotcoin in Ukraine. The road ahead for Ukrainian IT

During a talk with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Sergiy Vakarin congratulated him with the outcomes of his efforts. At the Mobile World Congress 2018 (MWC) in Barcelona, Estonia received the Government Leadership Award. President Ilves mentioned that Estonia was the first country in the history that was hit by a cyberwar. Online services of the country’s banks, government agencies and media outlets were taken down by massive Internet spam waves. Now Estonia is one of the best defended countries in the world against potential cyberattacks, and Ukraine can learn from this experience.


Ukraine has been already hit by numerous attacks of viruses and malware since 2014, including  attacks of BlackEnergy on its energy grid, ramsomware like Petya on commercial companies, while destructive NotPetya malware attacked networks of global firms via their Ukrainian offices.

Ukrainian cybersecurity solutions were presented by Sergiy Vakarin at the 4yfn and MWC 2018 in Barcelona, the FutureFest (KPI University) and Ukrainian Space Week. One of the most promising tools to boost digital security is blockchain technology.

Read more: Space projects and children of the future: UkraineIS has held several events within the framework of the first Future Fest in Ukraine

In the recent years, cyberattacks initiated predominantly from Russia-based IPs, have been targeting not only Ukraine and Estonia but also other post-Soviet and many Western countries. On April 24, 2018 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution that condemns cyberattacks: “Cyberattacks are particularly dangerous as they can hit a country’s strategic infrastructure, such as its air traffic control system or nuclear plants. Therefore, hybrid war can destabilise and undermine entire societies and cause numerous casualties.” PACE urged its member states to refrain from resorting to hybrid war, step up co-operation to identify hybrid war adversaries and threats, and share good practice in reacting to it.

Last year NATO provided cyber defense equipment to Ukraine for combatting cyber threats and investigating cyberattacks on key government institutions.

Photos by Sergiy Illin, Viktor Pinchuk Foundation © 2018

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