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Supo: Cyber spying, traditional espionage, terrorism threat continue

A new report from the Finnish Security Intelligence Service Supo says cyber attacks are becoming more common while more traditional espionage continues.

Suojelupoliisin päällikkö Antti Pelttari ja apulaispäällikkö Seppo Ruotsalainen Supon tiedotustilaisuudessa.
Finnish Security Intelligence Service Director Antti Pelttari (right) and Deputy Director Seppo Ruotsalainen at Wednesday's press conference. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service Supo says it became aware of several state-backed cyber attacks against Finnish companies last year. The focus of these attacks, it notes, is on information concerning critical infrastructure and product development.

"Cyber espionage poses a serious threat to Finnish information capital. If product development data is stolen to another country, it is possible that the company loses its whole future," Supo Director Antti Pelttari stated in Wednesday's release.

Supo points to increasing difficulty in countering threats because of data management outsourceing by companies, and gaps in the authorities’ capability to counter cyber attacks. In this context, the Supo director indicated that proposed changes in laws governing intelligence operations could make a difference.

"We have no access to the data networks, so our capability to detect cyber espionage is completely inadequate. Intelligence legislation would deliver an improvement to this," says Pelttari.

Spy vs. spy

While cyber espionage is gaining ground, traditional espionage also remains an active concern. According to Supo, foreign intelligence services try to recruit Finns to provide them with information that is not publicly available. Russian intelligence organisations, especially, are active in Finland.

Supo's assessment is that foreign intelligence organisations are particularly interested in Finnish foreign and security policy. In 2017, they were also interested in the ongoing process of drafting new intelligence legislation, cyber security infrastructure, and measures for combating the information operations.

Terrorism threat still elevated

Speaking at a Wednesday press conference, Pelttari said that the terrorism threat level in Finland continues to be classed as "elevated".

Supo raised its terrorism threat assessment level last summer.

According to Pelttari, even after military losses, Isis is still able to efficiently spread propaganda. He added that part of the reason that Supo raised its threat assessment level last summer was that Finland has been targeted by Finnish-language propaganda tailored specifically for residents of Finland.

"Our assessment is that Isis still has the capability to generate and widely disseminate this kind of propaganda," he stated.

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