Finland must have a deeper understanding of cyber-espionage attacks if it intends to defend itself against them, views Carl Haglund (SFP), a former Minister of Defence.Finland must have the capability to conduct offensive cyber-operations, state two members of a parliamentary observatory appointed to mull over the reform of intelligence laws.

“I'm not demanding […] that the Defence Forces engage actively in cyber-espionage. But, we do need the capability to defend ourselves. If we want to defend ourselves against cyber-attacks, we can't do so without understanding the logic of such attacks. If we don't know how to attack, we also don't know how to defend ourselves,” Carl Haglund (SFP) argued in an interview on YLE Radio 1.

“I agree with the views of Haglund that we must have the option in our back-pocket to perform counter-attacks, cyber-attacks. We can't only be on the receiving end,” said Pertti Salolainen (NCP).

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- Investigation into data security breach at Ministry for Foreign Affairs progresses (01 February, 2014)

- Finland may soon have its own secret agents (22 December, 2013)

- Finland responds to espionage with diplomatic means, Niinistö assures (07 November, 2013)

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The debate over the cyber-warfare capabilities of Finland re-ignited this week after YLE reported that Turla, a Russian-speaking cyber-espionage group, was responsible for infiltrating the communications of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Finland did not detect the long-running espionage campaign until receiving a tip-off about it from a foreign power, presumably Sweden, in 2013.

Haglund reminded that the report has yet to be verified. If Turla was indeed responsible for the espionage campaign, it could not have acted without the consent and, most likely, financial support of Russia, he added.

Salolainen also demanded that security authorities shed further light on the issue. “It'd be appropriate if our authorities commented on the issue in some capacity. It's been several years [since the campaign was detected], and you'd have expected to receive some information from an official authority,” he said.

“Finland must have a system in place for exposing espionage campaigns. That's what will be on our agenda in the near future,” he added, referring to the legislative reform.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Petteri Paalasmaa / Uusi Suomi
Source: Uusi Suomi