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Finland excels in cyber security review; language a deterrent

A fresh report by the software giant Microsoft places Finland among the top five locations for cyber security. However local network security authorities say while Finland's unique language offers some protection from online threats, Finnish web users shouldn't be complacent.

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Microsoft's Security Intelligence Report gives Finland, Japan and other Nordic countries high marks for cyber security. Image: Yle

Microsoft’s latest Security Intelligence Report gives Finnish cyber security experts reason to be proud. The small country was punching well above its weight in the cyber security field, rubbing shoulders with other larger Nordic countries and information security heavyweight Japan.

The Microsoft report reviewed more than one million IT systems and collected data over a two-year period. The report lays out detailed information about the frequency of harmful malware attacks in various countries and how often they resulted in contamination. It also provides statistics on website intrusions and their use to disseminate malware.

It found that Finland was one of five countries with the lowest malware encounter rates – the others were Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Japan, which had the lowest rates. Finland also shined in terms of the lowest malware infection rates.

"The Nordic countries, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, have perennially been among the healthiest locations in the world with regard to malware exposure, as has Japan," the report said.

Cyber criminals aim to infect devices with malware

In Finland network providers and the Communications Regulatory Authority (Ficora) have the main responsibility for cyber security. The effective cooperation between these players has also received worldwide attention. Ficora gathers data on data security breaches and other problems from operators and automatically shares it with network administrators.

"We can’t say that Finland has certain immunity factors that would prevent data breaches and malware infections. However they are immediately detected and it’s even possible to implement retroactive technical interventions," explained Erka Koivunen of Ficora’s cyber security centre.

Nowadays digital hardware is very well protected. Because of this hackers prefer to target computer users, accounting for the popularity of fraudulent websites and malware. According to the Microsoft data the most commonly-used tactic is to entice users to download cleverly disguised malicious software.

Expert: Click conservatively

Finland’s obscure language makes it somewhat easier to keep cyber criminals at bay. However authorities have detected some fake websites from time to time, so language alone is not enough to protect web users in Finland.

According to Koivunen, cyber safety for ordinary users lies in remembering a few ground rules when online.

"Ensure that your computer, software and virus protection software is always up to date. It’s also worthwhile to be conservative and maintain a healthy scepticism when it comes to surfing websites and reading email. You don’t need to click on everything," he advised.

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