Sweden, Finland Weigh Cyber Risks Stemming From NATO Applications

Authorities in Sweden and Finland have raised their alert level for cyberattacks, fearing they face an increased risk of attack due to the war in Ukraine and the two Nordic countries’ applications to join them. then joined NATO.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, cybersecurity officials in Sweden and Finland have not seen an increase in attacks targeting critical infrastructure, although they say the countries are become a more interesting target for hacking groups with ties to Russia.

The two Nordic countries applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Wednesday, after decades of neutrality. Approval can take months.

David Lindahl, a research engineer at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, which is affiliated with the Swedish Defense Ministry, said hackers with links to Russia could try to sway the process under many different ways.

Mr. Lindahl said hackers were able to infiltrate Swedish websites and spread misinformation online. While cyberattacks against the country have not increased this year compared to previous years, NATO’s application means “we have changed the situation,” he said.

Hackers briefly took down Finnish government websites last month while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was addressing the Finnish Parliament. Russia has always denied participating in cyberattacks.

According to Kim Elman, director of the cybersecurity center at RISE, a research institute owned by the Swedish government, other concerns about cybersecurity relate to the possibility of long-term espionage campaigns following: when countries become NATO members and cyber attacks in retaliation.

Mikko Hypponen, research director at WithSecure based in Finland.


mike blake / Reuters

Cyberattacks are likely to increase thereafter, potentially as a form of retaliation for the Finnish government’s decisions and the Finnish government’s involvement as a NATO member, Mikko Hypponen , said WithSecure’s director of research Corp.

a network security company based in Finland formerly known as F-Secure.

“The hacker groups are “too late for their attacks if they want to make any concrete difference” to public opinion about joining NATO, Mr. Hyppönen said. The Russian government targets Finland and Sweden”.

Sanctions that prevent Russia from buying high-tech equipment make cyberattacks on Sweden and Finland more attractive, Mr. Elman said. “Russia will be more dependent on acquiring that knowledge and intellectual property by other means,” he said. Finland and Sweden are both high-tech research and development sites and would be targets for espionage, he added.

The governments of Sweden and Finland have raised their alert levels and warned about cyber threats targeting domestic companies and infrastructure during the war in Ukraine, and cybersecurity agencies in both. The country has received more notices and requests for information from companies and individuals who have questions or want to share information about cybersecurity in the past few months. Officials say there is growing public awareness and concern about cyber threats.

“There is a certain tension in the air involved,” said Johan Turell, senior analyst for cybersecurity at the Swedish Civil Defense Agency, the body responsible for emergency management. situation and tend to see things through that lens. Authorities in Swedish cities have become increasingly concerned with cybersecurity since the start of the war and frequently ask about cyber protections, such as how to comply with laws requiring critical infrastructure operators handle network problems, he said.

Finland and Sweden have officially applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Analysts say their membership will significantly enhance the bloc’s military capabilities on land, at sea and in the air. Illustrated by: Laura Kammermann

Deputy director general Sauli Pahlman said: “Finland’s cybersecurity agency, the National Cyber ​​Security Center, is assessing cyber threats outside the country more systematically than it did before the war, as the agency focuses primarily on domestic threats. Analysts studied recent cyberattacks in Ukraine to learn how to protect against them and strengthen communications with critical infrastructure operators, he said.

Ukrainian authorities in April said they had prevented an attack on an energy company. Before and since the Russian invasion, hackers have used destructive malware against Ukrainian targets, including a financial company and government suppliers. In addition, the websites of government ministries and companies were flagged.

Mr. Pahlman said his agency was prepared to fight cyberattacks similar to those targeting Ukrainian companies in recent months: “Finland as a society needs to be the ability to use that information and prepare for something similar could happen here.”

In March, Finland began a month-long review involving six government ministries and the prime minister’s office aimed at reforming the way the country handles cybersecurity issues and responds to attacks. network public. The effort was planned before the Russian invasion but officials involved said the war helped them focus on specific threats.

“The situation in Ukraine has changed our minds and sparked discussions,” said Mikko Soikkeli, director of the Defense Ministry’s IT management unit and one of the heads of the cybersecurity review. Ours is probably more tense.”

Petri Knape, director of the national security unit at the Interior Ministry, also led the review. “We are basically prepared for all the dangers at this stage,” he said.

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Alley Einstein

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