The small but technologically adept nation of Estonia has raised an alarm that should be heard around the wired world. Last month it weathered what some describe as the first real war in cyberspace when its government and much of its commerce nearly shut down for days because of an orchestrated Internet assault. The assault on Estonia’s virtual society began in April after authorities moved a bronze statue of a Soviet soldier from a central park in Tallinn to a military graveyard farther from the centre of the city. Russians and Estonians of Russian descent immediately took to the streets to protest. Quickly then after, waves of unwanted data clogged the Websites of the government, businesses and newspapers, shutting down one branch of their computer network after another. Estonian authorities charged that the data flood came on orders from the Kremlin. But President Putin’s government has denied any involvement.

In recent years, governments, businesses and individuals have focused on ways to keep hackers or destructive viruses from stealing or destroying sensitive information. But Estonia should put the computer-dependent world on full notice that there can be many offensive forms of information warfare and figuring out how to stop and who is behind is essential to our security.