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Antti Pelttari, the director-general of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, says both cyber and traditional espionage have become more commonplace in Finland.
Antti Pelttari, the director-general of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, says both cyber and traditional espionage have become more commonplace in Finland.

Both cyber and traditional espionage have become common occurrences in Finland, according to the latest yearbook of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo).

Supo on Wednesday revealed that last year it detected a number of foreign state-backed cyber attacks designed to obtain sensitive information about critical national infrastructure and the product development projects of businesses in Finland.

Antti Pelttari, the director-general of Supo, said cyber espionage poses a serious threat to the country’s information capital.

“If product development data [are] stolen to another country, it is possible that the company loses its whole future,” he explained in a press release from Supo.

Finnish security authorities, however, are finding it increasingly difficult to prevent such threats, first, because businesses are outsourcing their data administration operations abroad and, second, because the authorities do not have the necessary capabilities to detect the threats.

“We have no access to data networks, so our capability to detect cyber espionage is completely inadequate,” lamented Pelttari.

Supo has lobbied vocally for the introduction of new intelligence legislation that would grant it the authority to sift through network traffic for intelligence and thereby improve its ability to identify and respond to contemporary security threats. The Finnish government submitted its proposal for new civilian and military intelligence laws to the Parliament on 25 January, 2018.

Supo also reminded yesterday that traditional espionage activities are not uncommon in Finland.

Foreign intelligence services, it said, continue to attempt to recruit local residents to provide them with sensitive information especially on foreign and security policy making. Russian intelligence organisations have been particularly active, although they are by no means the only organisations with operations in Finland.

The key areas of interest last year included the proposed intelligence laws, cyber security capabilities and measures to combat information operations.

Supo also reiterated its assessment that individuals and small groups with direct or indirect ties to jihadist terrorist organisations continue to post the greatest terror threat in Finland.

Security authorities, it revealed, have uncovered a growing number of serious terrorism-related plans and projects in the country and have designated a total of 370 people as so-called counter-terrorism target individuals – a number that has all but doubled over the past decade.

Supo additionally drew attention to the knife attack that took place in Turku, South-west Finland, last August, describing it as an “example of the change that has taken place in the security environment and counter-terrorism operating environment in Finland”.

The terrorism threat level remains elevated, it said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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