(ISC)²’s two-day UK Secure Summit brings multi-subject sessions from hands-on practical workshops to keynotes and panel discussions, featuring local and international industry experts to maximise the learning experience and CPE opportunities.
Serving the entire (ISC)² EMEA professional community, the Summit offers a wealth of educational value, networking opportunities, and a community forum for likeminded professionals, all of which are FREE to (ISC)² members & (ISC)² Chapter members. Read on for insights from one of our popular Secure Summit UK sessions:
(ISC)² 2018 Secure Summit UK saw Joseph Carson, CSS at Thycotic, reveal the fascinating story behind Estonia’s journey towards becoming the world’s most advanced digital society, and the cyber security lessons we can learn from the Bible and ‘blockchain.’
The story began with an interesting insight into how the thinking behind blockchain, like most digital concepts, began in the physical realm. The gospels of the New Testament were preserved in more manuscripts than any other work of ancient literature, making them incredibly accurate and difficult to tamper with. He explained that this was, in a sense, an early example of the power of blockchain to preserve historical data against manipulation through decentralisation and mass distribution. He then outlined how blockchain as a computer science technique grew out of the ‘Merkle tree’, a series of digital ‘leaves’ composed of data blocks growing exponentially in chronological order. This later became the concept behind not only cryptocurrency trading but also Estonia’s post-Soviet preservation of its national memory.
Mr Carson explained how the story of blockchain as a national system of historical data preservation began when Estonia gained independence in 1991. The new democratically elected government needed to meet the twin challenges of providing efficient public services to a small and diverse population, despite having few accurate national archives since so many legal documents had been altered by the Soviet regime. Even the land ownership documents and other legal documents had been tampered with, as the Soviet authorities had effectively written over their national memory. They saw how an occupying power could effectively erase a country’s history and identity by altering everything from its marriage records to its history books and vowed never to let it happen again.
In 1998, Estonia adopted blockchain as a system to decentralise and preserve everything from their tax to marriage records so that their history could never again be re-written. They also made digital signatures legally recognisable like paper signatures. Digital identification combined with decentralisation, helped preserve everything from voting records to tax returns against malicious tampering or the threat of natural disasters wiping out data. It also ensured Estonian citizens could easily access vital services from a smartphone from anywhere in the world, and that everything from votes to tax returns were tamper-proof, safeguarding democracy.
Estonia then went even further and created overseas ‘data embassies’ across Europe so that their national memory could not be compromised even if Estonia was invaded and its datacentres destroyed. The result is that the country has a digital national identity which allows swift, seamless and secure access to services for its citizens.
This has powerful lessons for the West. It demonstrates how digitisation can provide personalised, high-speed services enabling the state to become an effective and efficient service-provider for citizens. Crucially, it shows how the concept of blockchain can help to preserve our national memory and the integrity of the information on which vital decisions and democracies depend.