As part of Estonia’s efforts to shield the country’s ICT sector from cyber-attacks, Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo has announced the country aims to spend €117.5 million on developing cyber-security and e-state solutions in the next four years.
Of these, €112.5 million is to be allocated to boosting cyber-security and e-services. A further €5 million will be spent on increasing the cyber-security capacities of Estonia’s public broadcaster ERR.
"By raising an additional €117.5 million for ICT, we will be able to significantly modernise our e-government solutions and ensure that our e-state is standing on strong feet. One of the things that goes hand in hand with this upgrade is increasing cyber-security in the entire sector," Palo said.
In addition to these investments, the Estonian government is also planning to raise the salaries of the state ICT employees by 20 percent to make the public sector a more competitive workplace and facilitate the recruitment of skilled experts, according to the minister.
"Our e-state is run and developed owing to the skills of our people. This is why … we must show that Estonia will prioritise ICT, and contribute to keeping and motivating the people who work there," Palo said.
The minister said that, over the past years, Estonia has been able to develop its ICT infrastructure in large part owing to the funds provided by the European Union. However, these one-off financial injections have made it difficult for the country's authorities to implement long-term maintenance and development initiatives. The latest programme is designed to secure sufficient funds for such projects, according to Palo.
Anna Piperal, the managing director of E-Estonia Showroom at the state-run agency Enterprise Estonia, told SCMagazineUK.com that Estonians have a particularly high acceptance of e-government solutions owing to the level of convenience and transparency that come with them.
"E-Estonia means voting in elections from the comfort of your own living room, filing your income tax return in just five minutes, signing a legally-binding contract over the Internet, from anywhere in the world, via your mobile phone. These are just a few of the services that Estonians take advantage of on a regular basis," Piperal says.