Finland’s government has been subject to a series of ongoing cyber-attacks launched by a foreign government , Finnish officials have revealed.
The government said it was completely unaware of the attacks seeking sensitive information until 2013.
The two instanced of cyber espionage targeting Finland’s foreign ministry have been uncovered by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service. The first case, said to be going on for years, was detected in early 2013 after the police had been tipped off by another country. When investigating the first case, the Finnish Security Intelligence Service detected a second, more serious security breach.
It is not known for how long the attacks have been in progress.
The attacks were conducted by planting malicious software on ministry computer equipment. The head of the Security Intelligence Service Antti Pelttari refused to disclose which country was behind the attack and whether it was the same country in both cases.
"We will not single anyone out, simply say that they were done by governmental actors. We will not name them," Pelttari told a news conference.
Several other Western countries, including Belgium, have been targeted with similar attacks, he added.
By attacking the foreign ministry’s computers, the hackers managed to gain access to lots of documents, the police said, but added the exact content of all compromised materials were not known yet.
"The information gleaned can have had an impact on negotiations, and can have caused damage to Finland's national interest," Peter Stenlund, secretary of state at the foreign ministry, said.
Due to the knowledge gained in the investigation, the ministry has been able to stop several other cyber-attacks, Stenlund said.
With the investigation, the perpetrators also know they have been identified.
"They know that we know," Stenlund said.