November 3, 2013
Finnish Government Victim Of ‘Serious And Extensive’ Digital Spying Campaign
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The foreign ministry of Finland was the target of a complex, long-lasting cyber-espionage campaign first detected early in the spring, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja revealed during a press conference on Thursday.
According to Juhana Rossi of the Wall Street Journal, Tuomioja said the ministry was the target of a “serious and extensive” digital spy campaign, but that no top-secret or “sensitive” communications from Finland or any other countries were compromised by the hacking. He added that the matter had been investigated by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service.
Tuomioja himself declined to identify any potential suspects, but Reuters reports that Finnish television station MTV3 reported that Chinese and Russian intelligence agents might have been involved. Furthermore, the network’s report said whomever was behind the attacks had access to the network for years and appeared to target communications between the Finnish government and European Union officials.
Tuomioja told Bloomberg News that Finnish officials “can’t at this stage confirm or deny the suspects.” The cyber-espionage was originally discovered thanks to a tipster from outside the country, and government officials said they did not publicize the incident at first in order to avoid compromising the ongoing investigation. As Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen put it, “We didn’t want those who spied on us to know that we know.”
“Experts were not surprised that the spying had taken place,” according to the AFP news agency. As Petteri Jarvinen, described by the news service as an “independent digital expert,” said, Finnish authorities have been “too innocent” when it comes to digital espionage. He added that “the fact that Finland didn't detect the acts of espionage itself which have lasted for years is very embarrassing.”
On January 24, Finland approved an official national cybersecurity strategy in order to help the military and private-sector firms overseeing essential infrastructure guard against hacking attempts, which they called a growing threat to the country’s economy, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Finnish officials hope to have a Cybersecurity Center up-and-running by the end of next year, and hope to have all of their proposed measures implemented by 2016.
“The report comes amid a global outcry over allegations the US National Security Agency collected data on millions of phone calls in Europe and snooped on leaders of major US allies including German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Reuters noted. The US and other Western nations have previously accused both Russia and China of cyberattacks, “targeting both companies and government departments.” However, as the news agency points out, “Beijing and Moscow deny direct involvement in hacking.”