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Scale of hacking no surprise to Finnish officials

The large-scale cyber attacks that came to light on Wednesday are new only because they have been discovered, says an expert from the state data security unit. Security company McAfee detected a series of hacking attempts that have intruded on the networks of 72 organisations, including the UN and several governments.

Naisen käsi tietokoneen hiirellä.
Image: YLE

This is not the first major hacking attack that happened over the past few years. Most recently, Google reported cyber infiltrations of some thirty businesses in May 2010.

Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority’s unit CERT-FI, which reports on national information security, says that the latest series of hackings occurred on the large scale over a long period of time.

“An incident like this is not the most usual cyber crime, which aims to achieve quick financial gains. Here we are talking of methodical action geared towards probing for information and staying undetected as long as possible,” says Information Security Adviser Tomi Hasu from CERT-FI.

Hasu says that the current speculation that China might be behind these attacks is just that: speculation. According to Hasu, it is impossible to say for certain who the perpetrator is.

Basic security goes a long way

CERT-FI does not know whether Finnish businesses were also targeted in these attacks. Companies will inform the unit themselves if they find out they have suffered from the hackers. So far, no reports have come through.

In Hasu’s opinion, the bulk of cyber crimes can be prevented through normal security means, such as system updates, anti-viruses and proper firewalls. It’s also important to educate employees on safe internet behaviour, he says.

“Not quite all links or emails should be opened,” Hasu points out.

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