Finland warns against growing Russian online threat

The focus of Russian intelligence collection has shifted to online activities after the expulsion of diplomats from Helsinki.

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Finland has experienced an increase in online espionage attempts from Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, according to the Finnish security and intelligence service, Supo. The country faces various threats from Russia, including cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns.

Supo confirmed that Russia is among the most active perpetrators of intelligence operations targeting Finland, particularly in cyberspace. These activities have escalated due to increased Russian interest in the Finnish membership in NATO, support for Ukraine, and potential sanctions evasion through Finland.

Suvi Alvari from Supo mentioned that Russia would likely continue using denial-of-service attacks to make Finland’s information systems inaccessible, aiming to create an image of malfunctioning services. However, physical harm to Finland’s critical infrastructure on Finnish soil is currently unlikely. State-run Russian media are using disinformation campaigns to project a negative image of Finland, mainly targeting the Russian-speaking population.

The Swedish armed forces’ cyber defense chief also stated that Sweden is experiencing heightened activity in the cyber domain and is preparing to protect critical infrastructure from future cyberattacks.

Why does it matter?

With upcoming elections in Russia and Finland expected next spring, concerns about potential interference have been raised. Ongoing investigations are being conducted into the damage to an undersea gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, and the involvement of a state actor has not been ruled out. Additionally, Sweden reported damage to an undersea telecommunications cable between Sweden and Estonia, but the cause of the damage remains unclear.