Tallinn University of Technology began cooperation with the Estonian cyber security company, CybExer Technologies, who brought to the Tallinn University of Technology a research grant of 300,000 euros for exploring in the following three years the possibilities of facing the increasingly more common cyber attacks in the world with a more efficient cyber hygiene.
“Internationally respected cyber security specialists work and teach in the Centre for Digital Forensic and Cyber Security of Tallinn University of Technology and I am pleased of the fact that we can, hand in hand with private capital, help increase the daily sense of security of us all,” TTÜ Rector academician Jaak Aaviksoo said.
“Providing cyber security requires that the technology, processes as well as the people are on top of their game. This cooperation is, in fact, focused on the knowledge and skills needed for people to operate safely in the information era. To draw a parallel, the extensive introduction of cars in the previous century changed people’s set of skills and knowledge in the field of traffic safety,” Rain Ottis, an assistant professor at TTÜ, added.
The Estonian cyber security company, CybExer Technologies, has developed a one of a kind e-learning platform where people are faced with scenarios from real life. At the end of the playful test, each testee is given a personal risk analysis with recommendations on how to protect themselves better from cyber threats. The tests also give a wider overview of the cyber security level of a company as a whole and enables to mark out the risks to improve the work processes accordingly.
The cyber hygiene test of CybExer has now been adopted by dozens of companies, government agencies, universities and organisations and over 100,000 employees of these in Estonia as well as elsewhere. Among others is the Estonian Information System Authority through which thousands of government officials had the chance to test their knowledge and skills of cyber security prior to the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.
The member of board of CybExer Technologies, Andrus Kivisaar, says that it was the feedback from these tests that compelled us to start cooperating with the scientists at TTÜ. “The cyber hygiene of people is worse than we feared. One distinct problem is psychological in nature – people think that they themselves are exempt from the consequences of opening an unknown file in an e-mail or carelessly sticking an unknown USB stick into their computer,” Kivisaar said.
“Even before launching the test, we were aware that its results would be a valuable asset to scientists to find, among other things, the relationships between the ever changing pattern of cyber attacks and human behaviour. Unfortunately, the times when all it took to ward of cyber attacks was a virus software are over,” Kivisaar explained. “The attacks that have just recently caused a lot of confusion throughout the world are hidden very subtly and deliberately directed towards ordinary people to take advantage of their poor cyber hygiene in order to spread chaos. For example, all it takes is to open a single wrong file in your home computer for your company to close all its stores all tomorrow over the globe, as we saw just now in June during the NotPetya ransomware attack right here in Estonia. In short – the cyber hygiene of people clearly needs to improve.”
As a result of the newly started cooperation, a team of TTÜ scientists will in the following three years analyse the feedback of the cyber hygiene test both mathematically as well as psychologically, give the algorithms of this analysis a scientific assessment and update the test with the latest cyber threat trends so that improving the cyber hygiene of people would be up to date. “For us, the feedback from the scientists at TTÜ is vital in order for the CybExer cyber hygiene tests to constantly represent the newest cyber threats and its results to be scientifically measurable,” Kivisaar added.
A third of the €300,000 grant allocated to the team of scientists at TTÜ came from CybExer Technologies itself. The Archimedes Foundation contributed €200,000 to the international security project established in the cooperation between CybExer Technologies and European Defence Agency for the applied research of cyber hygiene.