Ukraine crisis also reflected in the cyber realm

The international situation in Ukraine will inevitably affect the digital world and related preparedness. The digital world does not recognise boundaries between states. Finland has built up its preparedness over the long term, and it is a part of the country’s normal activities, says Kirsi Karlamaa, Director-General of The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom.

Kirsi Karlamaa, Director-General, The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom

Cyber security preparedness is increasingly important

Several cyberattacks have been detected in Ukraine in 2022. The attacks included denial of service attacks on government websites, malware that destroys data on systems, and various phishing attempts. The methods are neither novel nor unusual. Almost all the cyber phenomena observed in Ukraine in the last decade have also been seen and prevented in Finland. In Finland, we are capable of responding to similar threats as part of our normal cyber security processes.

The cyber security authorities in Finland are constantly sharing information and foiling potential attacks together. Alongside the authorities, thousands of information security professionals work for Finnish companies and organisations to combat cyber threats.  In Finland, companies own most of the critical infrastructure and manage huge masses of data. It is clear that telecom companies also play a vital role in securing Finland’s cyber environment. Telecom companies ensure the information security of their services and make preparations for various incidents, errors, and information security breaches.

The National Emergency Supply Agency’s (NESA) Digital Pool also works on preparedness. Digital Pool is a network of companies and authorities promoting the preparedness of our digital society as a cross-sectional function in the security of supply organisation. Digital Pool’s key objective is to promote cyber security in critical business and infrastructure and increase public trust in the foundational structures of the digital society.

Developments in the cyber security situation in Ukraine will be closely followed internationally, and information will be shared. The authorities will disseminate technical and operational situational awareness in their own networks. These analyses will be consolidated and used as the basis for decision-making. Enhancing the exchange of information in international networks and building a shared situational awareness are among the most important aspects for ensuring our own state of preparedness.

Finland will remain a cyber-secure country

Finland has recognised the need to develop cyber security for the future. For us, it means scrutinising the authorities’ capacity to operate in the areas of cyber security assurance, cybercrime prevention, and cyber defence in collaboration with the various entities working together to study potential improvements to the authorities’ communications under various circumstances. The cyber security development programme also seeks to safeguard the future by strengthening Finland’s cyber capabilities and expertise while building an ecosystem of public and private sector actors. We need to lay the foundations to successfully ensure that Finland remains a cyber-safe country. This will require strong resourcing and financing.

Our communication networks must be secure

The development of new technologies such as 5G will transform our existing communication infrastructure. The trend of replacing physical networks with software-based infrastructure will give rise to new vulnerabilities. A new mindset and analytical approach will be required to ensure cyber security in the network’s critical components. Regulations on critical network components have been prepared in wide-ranging cooperation between the authorities and telecommunications operators. It is my belief that security can be ensured by agreeing upon the evaluation criteria, reconciling every party’s needs, and exchanging information regularly as the development of 5G advances.