Connected Estonia to open world’s first virtual data embassy

2017-07-17 02:03:44 GMT2017-07-17 10:03:44(Beijing Time) Agencies

Cyber-savvy Estonia has taken yet another step forward in global technology, as the small Baltic state is set to open the world's first data embassy in Luxembourg early next year.

The heavily protected server room will contain important Estonian e-government data, so that the NATO and eurozone members can access it even when systems are down at home.

"Data security and cyber security are generally crucial from the perspective of both people's confidence and the functioning of services," Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said last month. "It is also an important part of so-called daily digital hygiene in increasingly digitizing societies."

Ratas released the statement after signing an agreement with his Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel on housing Estonian data there.

"This is the first data embassy in the world," said Ratas, whose small country of just 1.3 million people has been dubbed E-stonia for being a trailblazer in technology.

After five decades of Soviet rule ended in 1991, Estonia opted to go hi-tech as fast as possible, and still outstrips other members of the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

One of the most connected countries in the world, the Baltic state has made most public services accessible at a special state portal and even pioneered e-voting in 2005. Its capital Tallinn is home to the NATO cyber-defence center.

Estonia has bitter experience in the field: a politically charged dispute with its Soviet-era master Moscow in 2007 was marked by a blistering cyber-attack blamed on Russian hackers - though the Kremlin denied any involvement.

The attack lasted two weeks and took scores of websites offline, including those of the parliament, banks, ministries, newspapers and broadcasters.

One year later, the NATO cyber-defence center was up and running. Work on using international cloud services to back up Estonia's e-government data began in 2014, when the country joined forces with Microsoft to try storing a state gazette on the cloud.

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