Helsinki Finland
Image: Tapio Haaja via Unsplash

Finland, now a NATO member, sees an uptick in cyberattacks

Finnish organizations are increasingly being targeted with cyberattacks, the government announced Friday — two weeks after the country officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Kirsi Karlamaa, director general of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Trafficom), told reporters during a press conference that its Cyber Security Center “receives more and more notifications every year, and there is a constantly growing interest in Finnish networks and organizations.”

“This growing interest has become a permanent trend,” she said.

A statement issued by the agency singled out Russia as the source of the increase in cyber activity, highlighting Moscow’s shift from on-the-ground intelligence gathering to the digital sphere.

“Russian cyber operations against Finland have also become more frequent because Russia has been forced to turn to the cyber environment as its human intelligence operations have become more difficult,” they wrote.

Last September, the Finnish Security Intelligence Service warned that it expected to see a rise in Russian cyberattacks over the winter. That appears to have borne out, although none of the attempted incursions have caused large-scale damage.

“We have assessed that the intelligence threat to … critical infrastructure has increased,” said Antti Pelttari, the director of the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service, according to translated remarks. “On the other hand, we leave as unlikely, at least in the short term, an action that would try to paralyze Finland's critical infrastructure, because such an action would mean a new kind of escalation, which Russia is hardly willing to do at the moment.”

He added that Finnish companies may also be of interest to Russia as it loses access to Western markets, making it “increasingly interested in companies' product development information.”

Trafficom’s Karlamaa added that ransomware attacks have grown more targeted, with a shift occurring at the end of last year. “Finnish organizations, especially the state administration and critical infrastructure companies, have been the target of the notifications we received,” she said.

She cited cyberattacks towards the end of 2022 against the construction engineering company Vahanen Group, social services institution Kela, water and heating infrastructure company Uponor and the manufacturing company Wärtsilä.

Opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine has been met with digital retaliation throughout the Eastern bloc, with Montenegro being hit with a massive cyberattack impacting critical infrastructure and government services last August, while Latvia and Estonia have also experienced attacks that appeared to be political in nature.

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James Reddick

James Reddick

has worked as a journalist around the world, including in Lebanon and in Cambodia, where he was Deputy Managing Editor of The Phnom Penh Post. He is also a radio and podcast producer for outlets like Snap Judgment.