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Tuomioja kept in dark over MFA hack

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja appeared in front of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday to explain his department’s response to the hacking of its systems earlier this year. He said that the hackers had targeted other countries too, and that he had initially been unaware of the security breach.

Ulkoministeri Erkki Tuomioja.
Erkki Tuomioja Image: Yle

Tuomioja told the MPs that even he had not been told immediately when the hacking was discovered in January. At first it was thought to be a small-scale breach, but in early March it became clear it was a much larger problem.

Tuomioja told the committee that at first only technical staff were aware of the matter, with political leaders only informed once the extent of the problem was discovered. This was in line with the way some 40 hacking attempts had been dealt with since 2006, according to the minister.

He also denied press speculation that the hackers had used the Red October malware. After his appearance at the committee, the veteran SDP MP told Yle that he believes many other countries had also been targeted.

"There have been similar data breaches at foreign ministries in several other countries," said Tuomioja. "And from this we can conclude that apparently nearly every foreign ministry has to a greater or lesser extent been a target of the same kind of espionage."

The committee chair Timo Soini, who had not been informed of the hack before it leaked to the media, declared he was satisfied with Tuomioja’s performance.

"We got a good explanation,  we questioned diligently and we got answers," said Soini, who also said he wanted to ensure he and his committee was kept abreast of developments in future.

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