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Thursday’s papers: Cyber crime damage costs, fewer jobless and new life-saving newborn screening

Cyber crime costs companies in Finland billions, fewer collect earnings-related jobless benefits, and a newborn test makes life-saving intervention possible.

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Image: Nella Nuora / Yle

Cyber crime is an increasing threat to companies in Finland, and as hackers get their hands on trade secrets, Finnish firms are facing losses in the billions, reports Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

Actors in China, Russia, South Korea, and Iran are often behind the attacks, and according to Finnish data security firm F-Secure, it’s difficult to hold these entities legally accountable. Tuomas Makkonen, a security consultant at F-Secure, says state actors are sometimes involved in industrial espionage, particularly Chinese and Russian companies that have a government component. These types of attacks most often target telecoms, the airline industry, the construction sector, and consulting services.

Internet thieves are primarily interested in corporations’ research, innovation, business plans, prototype drawings and customer databases, according to EK.

Business Europe, a European umbrella organisation for employer federations, estimates that cyber espionage shaves 1-2 percent off a country’s gross national product every year.

Fewer collecting earnings-related jobless benefits

The number of people in Finland eligible for earnings-related unemployment benefits is dropping, reports business magazine Talouselämä, citing figures released by social insurer Kela.

At the end of 2017, some 38 percent of unemployed people were drawing income-based benefits, while the number earlier this decade was 45 percent.

In 2010, more than half of unemployment benefit recipients were receiving support based on previous earnings. All unemployment benefits claims—including those for basic unemployment—fell last year, as 45,000 people went off the dole during the course of the year, according to Kela.

From the beginning of 2017, the maximum period of payment for earnings-related benefits fell to 400 days from 500.

About 369,000 people were drawing unemployment benefits last year. Finland’s jobless rate stands at 6.8 percent, according to Statistics Finland.

Life-saving newborn screening

Finland is to start screening newborns for a rare hereditary disorder called severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). The move is expected to diagnose one to two babies each year, making life-saving interventions possible before serious infections incur, according to national daily Helsingin Sanomat.

SCID gained widespread attention in the 1970s and '80s through the plight of ”Bubble Boy,” a child forced to live in a mostly sterile environment to stay healthy. Many severe immune deficiency syndromes, such as common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), are more prevalent in Finland than anywhere else in the world due to the homogeneous genetic makeup of Finns, who are descended from a relatively small original population.

The roughly 500 people living with CVID in Finland have a difficult time warding off infection as the disorder impairs their immune systems.

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