Liisa Past, Head of Information Security, IT and Development Center, Ministry of Interior, Estonia

How do you use technology / politics to improve the lives of citizens? Tell us about your role or your organization.

As the Information Security Officer of the IT and Development Center of the Estonian Ministry of Interior, I lead the team responsible for integrating information security practices through life-saving technology in internal security.

This means that our clients – including police, border guards, emergency responders and rescue services, as well as the ministry itself – must be able to go about their business of ensuring safety and security without worrying about technology, but rather being empowered by it. .

The mission of our organization is to save lives through IT. It’s hard to imagine a more direct impact on people in Estonia or a more meaningful job for the team.

What is an unexpected learning of 2021?

The global workforce has learned to really work from home in 2021. In many ways, 2020 meant going through a crisis and making things up as we go. 2021 demonstrated the reality of the digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic.

On the one hand, the threats and risks associated with cybersecurity have not radically changed. Major supply chain attacks, for example, demonstrate both how much our lives depend on digital solutions and how attackers balance opportunism and patience.

They also show how breaches and compromises are not just about data and information systems. It’s about believing that our increasingly digital way of life is achievable and sustainable.

On the other hand, people away from the office have specific information security needs. The focus on information security has also shifted from defending a network’s perimeter to protecting the end user and their devices, wherever they are.

Estonia provides a secure, government-backed digital identity for digital authentication and signatures, and our digital ecosystem relies heavily on this capability. In addition, the devices that the end user has with them must be protected, whether through virtual desktops or virtual private networks.

More fundamentally, however, the pandemic has once again highlighted global connectivity in the digital realm. The deployment – and the hiccups along the way – of digital solutions for the international exchange of pandemic-related information and contact tracing point to obvious gaps. The digital European vaccination passport is a great example of what can be done if things go well.

What is your favorite memory from last year?

I work with a small but incredibly diverse team that has gone through quite a bit of change over the past few years. Understanding how we work together and support each other is the absolute professional highlight of the year. Each member of the team is smart, takes responsibility and is dedicated to the big picture. While we have many challenges to overcome, this is a great foundation to build on.

What are your priorities for 2022? What tool or technique are you eager to explore in 2022?

Our goal at the Estonian Interior Ministry’s Computing and Development Center for 2022 is to improve cybersecurity situational awareness in the organizations we serve. This means starting to build a virtual security operations center that supports decision making at all levels, from 24/7 event triage to management.

A virtual center allows us to bring together different sources of information, explore automation and event orchestration, and gain a better overview.

Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you?

I am inspired by those leading change in infosec / cybersecurity and my colleagues, past and present. In this incredibly dynamic industry, we need to be able to learn from each other.

I wouldn’t be the professional I am without my former colleagues at the NATO Cooperative Cyber ​​Defense Center of Excellence who gave me the luxury of asking (often not very intelligent) questions of some of the leading cybersecurity researchers.

The Estonian Information System Authority offered a unique insight into how a digital government ecosystem works. Meanwhile, my current job as Information Security Officer at the IT and Development Center of the Estonian Ministry of Interior makes me responsible for putting all of this into practice.

What wakes you up in the morning?

Promise of good coffee;). Seriously, I find a morning routine to be incredibly useful for starting the day off right and mine involves freshly ground light roasted coffee beans and a V60 filter.

Professionally, I am driven by the sense of work and I have been throughout my career. I apologize as this sounds a bit cliché, but I stand up to make a significant impact on the world in any way.

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