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A safety vest and ladder will get you (almost) everywhere

An undercover reporter with just a high visibility vest and a ladder gained entry to the premises of important government agencies, institutions and businesses.

Yle's A-studio current affairs programme tested security measures at various official and corporate buildings in and around Helsinki, and found serious shortcomings at many locations.

Using just a ladder and a hi-visibility safety vest Yle's undercover reporter managed to gain entry to 10 out of 11 locations including the Bank of Finland, Helsinki Airport and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

Eleven places were selected for the test based on their public importance and significance for general safety or information security:

The test was conducted by Pasi Peiponen, a journalist for Yle’s A-Studio, who wore an unmarked yellow high visibility vest and carried a blank keycard. His prop was a small collapsible ladder and in some places he also wore a helmet.

The experiment was filmed with a hidden camera, and he was able to enter 10 of the 11 places tested.

The tape shows how Peiponen is waved through gates and doors to gain access to offices and staff areas with different levels of security. After gaining access, he turned round and left rather than proceeding further into the buildings.

Security protocols hold at Hanasaari power plant

The only site where Peiponen was denied entry was the Hanasaari power plant. Mats Fagerström, chief security officer at Helsinki energy company Helen, said the guard acted in an exemplary fashion.

"A person who works for us is responsible for a lot,” he says. “I believe that the security firm's managers and the training they provided play a major role."

Yle showed the recording to the institutions and companies tested. Most of them said that lobby staff did not follow established guidelines and that practices needed to be improved.

Some took a more critical look at their practices. "Up to now have kept the front door open, but we are now considering shutting it,” says Elisa Newby, head of communications at the Bank of Finland.

"We remain confident in our security practices"

On the other hand, not all were particularly concerned about the recording. Chief security officer Juha Härkönen from Fortum said the energy company’s headquarters has been divided into separate areas requiring different levels of security clearance.

"No outsider will get into those areas, not even me."

"Also, I don’t want a world or a Finland where everything is blocked, closed off or locked," Härkönen said.

Similarly, Finavia’s head of risk management, Juha-Pekka Pystynen, argues that while the Yle journalist was able to access a non-critical staff area at Helsinki Airport’s Terminal 2, he did not pose any safety risk whatsoever.

"Occasionally people end up here by accident. However, credentials will be checked for anyone trying to enter any areas critical to security," Pystynen said.

"We remain confident in our security practices and as such, the recording will not cause us to change them," Pystynen said.

Jouko Jokinen, Yle's head of news and current affairs, says he hopes the venues in question would improve their practices and security measures as a result of the exposé.

"The unorthodox means of collecting the information was pre-approved by Yle management," he says.

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