Cyber ambiguity: NATO’s digital defense in doubt amid unstable alliances

Fifth Domain: The banks were broken. In 2007, financial institutions across Estonia had difficulty carrying out the simplest of tasks. The banks’ servers were overloaded by a swarm of digital requests, called a distributed denial-of-service attack. Simple account withdrawals suddenly became feats of digital heroics. The banks were not alone.

Email inboxes of Estonian journalists were flooded with spam. The Ministry of Defence’s website went down. The Estonian government blamed Russia for the digital blitz. The crippling cyberattack lasted for three weeks and at the time was known as perhaps the most brazen act of cyber aggression by one state on another. But more than a decade later, the alleged Russian cyberattack on Estonia is seen as a rallying cry for NATO to bolster its cyber prowess.

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