Estonia’s first cybersecurity ambassador among the shapers of Europe

Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Estonia’s first ambassador at large for cybersecurity, has been nominated by the Politico magazine as one of the 28 people shaping, shaking and stirring Europe – placing her at number four among the “doers”.

“Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar wants to write the rules of cyber conflict,” the magazine says. “As Estonia’s first ambassador-at-large for cybersecurity, she’s at the forefront of a battle over what countries can and can’t do in cyberspace. Her ambition: to stop repressive governments from committing acts of war and aggression online, while ensuring they can’t use international law to suppress the free flow of information.”

The magazine notes that on one side of the cybersecurity debate are Tiirmaa-Klaar and her allies in the West, notably the US and large EU countries, who are advocating for rules of non-proliferation in cyberspace, proposing to set strict limits on how states use botnets, malware and software vulnerabilities to attack other states and domestic political opposition.

The author of measures to allow sanctions against cyberattackers

“On the other are members of the so-called Shanghai Cooperation Organization led by Moscow and Beijing, who advocate a different approach to regulating cyber conflict that Tiirmaa-Klaar says will make it harder for countries to crack down on state-sponsored hacking activities and cybercrime, while undermining protections for human rights online. Both sides have submitted competing strategies at the United Nations, where diplomats like Tiirmaa-Klaar will be lobbying undecided countries for support.”

Tiirmaa-Klaar was part of NATO’s first cyber policy team, and later, as the EU’s first cybersecurity diplomat, she put in place measures that would allow the bloc to impose sanctions in response to a cyberattack. The measure has yet to be used, but it’s not a secret who Tiirmaa-Klaar believes should be in its sights. “We have to keep in mind that armament and readiness in Russia is increasing,” she says, according to Politico.

Every year, Politico compiles a list of 28 people who will shape Europe in the year ahead. This time, in addition to picking an overall number one – Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini – the magazine ranked the remaining 27 people in three categories: doers, dreamers and disruptors. Tiirmaa-Klaar is ranked fourth in the “doers” category.


Cover: Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar (courtesy of Politico).

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