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Tuomioja: Cyber espionage embarrassing for Finland and MFA

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has said at a press conference that revelations of large-scale data surveillance in Foreign Ministry systems are embarrassing to Finland and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Erkki Tuomioja
Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja. Image: Yle

Speaking to reporters on Thursday after MTV3 reported the espionage, Tuomioja said that an investigation was underway. He refused to name any potential suspects, stating that in some cases it is difficult to differentiate between state and non-state actors.

Commercial broadcaster MTV3 had reported that China and Russia were suspected of involvement. Jarno Limnell, head of cyber security at Stonesoft, told Yle that it was very difficult to state where hackers may be from when they attack a network.

“There are different motivations for state and criminal actors in the cyber world,” said Limnell. “At this stage it is very difficult to say where the espionage against Finland originated.”

Cyber strategy on the way

Nevertheless, he says that state-sponsored hacking on this scale would not be surprising.

“This is the modern reality, that states spy in the digital world just as actively,” said Limnell.

Tuomioja said at his briefing that the hackers did not intercept the ministry’s most valuable information as that is kept on a separate system to the one they hacked. According to Limnell, Finland has not been slow to recognise the threat posed by cyber-spying.

“We had a cyber strategy from the state administration in January,” noted Limnell. “Right now it is being turned into an implementation programme, and I understand it should be ready soon.”

The MFA has informed the European Union about the matter, according to Tuomioja. Other countries have also fallen victim to similar hacks, but Tuomioja said that for he could not name them or say how many were involved as the investigation was still ongoing.

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